Nada Pode Me Separar Do Amor de Deus
2011 was a hit-or-miss year for film, from my perspective.
There were great films: Take Shelter, Drive, Hesher; mediocre ones: Another Earth, Midnight in Paris, Cave of Forgotten Dreams; much-hyped and ultimately disappointing ones: The Tree of Life, Melancholia; and just bad ones (let’s not go there, shall we not? No? Okay. Good talk.).
In the end, one of my favorite film genres had a banner year. I love well made documentaries for their stunning power, real drama, and connected portrayals of subject matter. 2011 gave us Conan O’Brien Can’t Be Stopped (one of my favorites), Bill Cunningham New York, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, the aforementioned Herzog slog Cave of Forgotten Dreams, snowboard film The Art of Flight (which— despite its massive energy drink ad budget— was a joy to watch), and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (which I still haven’t seen). One that I missed, that I am so happy to say I finally saw, is Senna.
I had read positive reviews of this dramatic documentary, which focuses on the Formula One career of Ayrton Senna, and his mercurial rise to fame in the F1 world. Before seeing it, I could say with all certainty that F1 racing was something I have never given any though or care. It always had seemed to me bloated, political, filled with immense budgets from cigarette companies, rife with pretentious drivers, and based upon racing machines that cost more money than most people will make in their lifetime. So how could a documentary about a Brazilian F1 driver hold my attention?
Because it is a heart wrenching, adrenaline filled, visceral, brutal, and completely touching film about bitter rivalries, intense and dramatic races, and a humble and down to earth driver’s love for the sport and his country.
Senna is the best film I have seen from 2011. It now sits in the number one spot, tied with Man on Wire, as the best documentary I have ever seen. It is incredible.
And it is streaming on Netflix. If you have Netflix instant and you’re wondering what you want to take in tonight while you decompress, watch Senna. If you think for an instant that it may not be your cup of tea, forget that and watch it. It is not a film about F1. It is a film about a very complex character and his humble emotional connection that he formed with people all around him. The cinematography is beautiful archived footage from races and interviews with Senna and his rival, the dialog is deeply affecting, and the subject is truly fascinating and gripping. It is difficult not to be swept up in the passion of the Brazilian crowds as they cheer, chant “Ayrton Senna!” with gusto, and weep to cameras saying “In Brazil, we need education, we need food, we need health, but we have joy, Senna brings us that joy!” And Ayrton, though coming from wealth and privilege of Brazil, is compassionate and humble. He loves Brazil, and Brazil loves him. He races for Brazil, he wins for Brazil. And that is the heart of the story, its whole reason for being. His relationship with Brazil is enrapturing.
This film is a must see.