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Review | Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend

There is something amazing about sport that has the capacity to produce show-stopping moments. Football, in particular, has a great habit of highlighting Hollywood-worthy stories to build a narrative around. You can glorify almost anything in football and if you had the capabilities, it would not be difficult to make documentaries around most of the big stories in football history. But that doesn’t mean that everything should be made into a documentary, and I don’t think Antoine Griezmann got that memo.

The story of Antoine Griezmann is inspirational. That is a phrase that gets thrown around too often, but Grizou’s story really is inspirational. He was turned down by a host of French clubs in his youth for being “too small”, “too slight” and “fragile” and was never, ever turned down for his natural technical ability. His technique and work ethic were exceptional, but his size is what French scouts and French clubs decided to avoid. As we all know by now, Griezmann went to Real Sociedad in Spain, made a name for himself there before becoming an even better player and bigger name at Atletico Madrid, before winning the World Cup with Les Bleus in 2018. It is a literal rise from the bottom of the footballing ladder to the very top, yet Making of a Legend (or Champion de Monde) somehow made it very… boring.

From a film making point of view, it is very formulaic. The drone shots over various training grounds and stadiums are beautiful, but the beauty wears off after the 70th shot of Sociedad’s training base. The formula usually goes something like “B-Roll footage of Griezmann doing something, drone shot of where the next talking point is, archived images of Griezmann in his youth, talking head interviews with whoever can add anything to the conversation, more B-Roll, more drone shots, more images, clips of him scoring goals (admittedly, he has scored some crackers in his time), free hand footage at the World Cup with the France squad, more Griezmann goals, more talking head interviews, oh look another drone shot,” you get the point.

There is nothing wrong with sticking to a formula, but this is a perfect example of how throwing a different technique in there could have given the documentary a different look. As someone who made a documentary in the past, it is hard not to look at this with a critical film makers eye, but perhaps giving Griezmann a handheld camera throughout the World Cup would have been a good idea and this is where we meet our first issue with the documentary.

The doc is not bad, but by no means is it great. Why? Because it’s very much an insulated film in the sense that this is the Antoine Griezmann that the filmmakers and Antoine Griezmann himself wants you to see. This doc wants you to root for him as he fails to get scouted from a young age, this doc wants you to realise how much he loves football by showing him getting autographs from the France World Cup squad of 1998.

But it does not want you to see the full extent of his French National Team ban in 2012 when he was caught partying instead of being at the U21 training base (the documentary does not go into detail but a quick Google search is all it takes to find out). It does not want you to see that time he went full blackface when he dressed up as a Harlem Globetrotter and it certainly does not want you to see his short film on his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid (this is briefly touched upon when it’s insinuated that the crowd are in the wrong for booing him in the final game of the La Liga season at home against Eibar. If you don’t want to get booed, don’t string your own fans along who are waiting to see if their star player is leaving or not…).

It treats Griezmann as the star he so desires to be rather than what the general perception is of him. Clearly he is loved by his teammates and respected by his peers, clearly he is a talented player but is he as big a star as he seems to see himself as?

He wants to be on the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – they even have Lucas Hernandez say in the doc say “Real have Cristiano, Barca have Messi, Atletico has Griezmann,” and while that is literally true (until Cristiano left), he seems more intent on being a bigger star than anything else. It is hard not to get emotional watching him talking about his family or his accomplishments, but it is also not hard to feel any true sympathy for him.

The doc makes out as if his adversity when he was younger was so tough, but it was not. He did not grow up in a deprived area, he did not grow up with a tough childhood, he was just unlucky enough to be surrounded by poor scouting, but did admittedly have to face the challenge of leaving his family, parents and home when he had barely become a teenager. Of course his career is inspirational and that should never be questioned, but Making of a Legend tries too hard to do exactly that.

It tries too hard to make Antoine Griezmann a bigger legend than he already is (when you win the World Cup and score the amount of goals he has for his clubs, he is a legend. Maybe not holistically, but to France and Atletico Madrid he is) and it does not quite succeed at doing that. Maybe if we got to see the real Griezmann, se more of his relationship with Paul Pogba – who he is clearly good friends with – and the rest of the France team who, quite clearly, love him. He also has a strong relationship with Didier Deschamps which would have been amazing to delve deeper into, to see how the two work together. Is it a criticism to want more? Perhaps, but it just felt like there was more to Antoine Griezmann than we were shown in this documentary.

Was this the filtered, safe and clean version of Grizou? Of course, but that is not always interesting! Overall, it was not a bad documentary, but this one will not live long in the memory.

T.S.

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