This is football as science fiction, with the legendary Zinedine Zidane as the astronaut journeying into inner space. Sadly, the film is still not available on DVD in this country (though people with multi-region players or capabilities can easily pick one up here) and it hasn't received any substantial theatrical play outside of being shown in a few U.S. cities over the last few months (appropriately enough at museums) and some screenings at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in January. One would have thought that Zidane’s World Cup 2006 burnout/head-butt would have been just the kind of ballyhoo that an American film distributor would have desired—free publicity!—but so far no one has had the courage to finance what would realistically be a limited arthouse run. That shouldn’t be too surprising, I guess, once you’ve actually seen it. It’s a marvelously hypnotic, visual opiate—but fans of the great Zidane looking for in-depth interviews, biographical detail, and psychological clarity are destined to be disappointed. Instead, directors Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno, with the help from the brilliant cinematographer Darius Khondji (Delicatessen, City of
But Zidane’s talents were far from extinguished that night in
And then Zidane snaps… much like he did in Germany in 2006, and the red card is flashed, sending this Achilles of the pitch into the dressing room to sulk about his misdeeds yet again. Or maybe he just keeps thinking about the glare of the lights and how they failed to dissolve him completely, failing to dissipate the rumblings vibrating through his muscles, his head, sending him back to that first time when he scored and everything mattered and... nothing really at all.
It’s not a film for everyone, and it will certainly tax the patience of people expecting something more than what it actually is. But if you give yourself up willingly to its strange rhythms, it will make for a fascinating hyper-realistic waking dream.