In the 80s, director Gil de Kermadec attempted to use film as means of analysing the game. His meticulously shot footage of John McEnroe matches during the French Open forms the starting point for an ironic look at the parallels between film and the sporting world: cinema lies, sport does not.
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Cinema. Holy Godard, so quoted and so canonized that patience is lacking for the boutades that were once said and at the cost of his faithful become aphorisms. I read in several Portuguese critics that this was a movie about cinema: being very grateful to Gil de Kermadec for his images, the overall construction of this film lacks the structuralism that supposedly should have. See how Serge Daney is (not) included...
Intellectuals trying to do films about athletes are as relevant as athletes pretending to be intellectuals. This two worlds just don´t understand each other. So Julien Faraut like others before tries hard and fails. But give him credit still for the formal audacity of the film, the research of a certain look that is not like every other documentary film today. John McEnroe is electrifying, sure. But please.
It doesn't culminate its wealth of ideas into something as great as its thesis statement would contend - luckily it is too invigorating for that to pose a problem. A montage of McEnroe serves set to Sonic Youth one of the more inspired examples of its committed culture clash. Like another serving of glorious pretension, Marclay's The Clock, it teaches us so much about mise en scene & the power of performance. 3.5
Documentaire fascinant, L’empire de la perfection dévoile McEnroe sous un jour nouveau en explorant sa fragilité explosive et interroge les liens secrets entre le cinéma et le sport. Chronique complète à lire sur Citazine : http://www.citazine.fr/article/empire-de-perfection-jeu-set-et-rage