John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection

A lovely meditation on time and movement, dedication and obsession, image and perception.


John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection

Written and directed by Julien Faraut and narrated by Mathieu Amalric, JOHN MCENROE: IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION revisits the rich bounty of 16mm-shot footage of the left-handed tennis star John McEnroe, at the time the world’s top-ranked player, as he competes in the French Open at Paris’s Roland Garros Stadium in 1984. Close-ups and slow motion sequences of McEnroe competing, as well as instances of his notorious temper tantrums, highlight a ”man who played on the edge of his senses.” Far from a traditional documentary, Faraut probes the archival film to unpack both McEnroe’s attention to the sport and the footage itself, creating a lively and immersive look at a driven athlete, a study on the sport of tennis and the human body and movement, and finally how these all intersect with cinema itself.

"Draws on archive footage, psychology and film theory to present a multi-faceted portrait of a complex man." (Nikki Baughan,
Screen International)
Documentary, Sport
Anthony Lane, New Yorker

Faraut’s coup is to have unearthed the work of another documentarian, Gil de Kermadec, who made obsessive studies of tennis players in action, shooting from the side of the court, or from a ground-level pit at one end, boxed in like a wildlife photographer in a blind. No prey was stalked more ...

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