It’s fair to say my resolution has exposed me to plenty of films I wouldn’t ordinarily have watched this year, but I didn’t expect one of them to be a documentary about an English football player. During the 1990s, Paul Gascoigne was something of a mercurial talent on the field (and lad-about-town off it, from what I gather), though as I was living in New Zealand during this decade, his fame largely passed me by. This documentary about his career (and rather more tangentially, his life) is based primarily on an interview with the striker, now in his late-40s and looking quite different from the chubby-cheeked larrikin as seen in the archival clips. His words and the football footage are bolstered primarily by his Tottenham Hotspur and England colleague Gary Lineker, as well as some shorter pieces with a handful of others. The documentary hints at darker storms gathering around Gascoigne (or “Gazza”), mainly the spectre of alcoholism, but never really digs deeply. However, whatever tabloid-baiting notoriety he may have acquired via thinly outraged stories (clearly fabricated from very little actual evidence), from his appearances here Gascoigne never seems anything less than affable and likeable. The editing of the interviews is perhaps overly reliant on shallow focus camerawork and hazily off-centred close-ups, which get a little tiring in their mannered way, but there’s some excellent sports action for those (like me) who were unfamiliar with Gascoigne’s goals, and it moves through its chronology pleasantly enough.
Director Jane Preston; Cinematographer Patrick Smith; Length 90 minutes.
Seen at home (Blu-ray), London, Wednesday 12 August 2015.