1619. Becoming Zlatan (2016)

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6.9 Interesting, but a little bland
  • Directing 6.8
  • Content 7.1
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronald Koeman, Mido Ahmed Hossam Hussein

Director: Fredrik Gertten, Magnus Gertten

Running Time: 100 mins


Becoming Zlatan (Den unge Zlatan) is a Swedish documentary about the early footballing years of international superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, from his difficult beginnings at Malmö and Ajax to his breakthrough at Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the great characters of modern football, and that’s got him onto another level of popularity amongst fans in recent times. As such, a documentary about him would be very appealing to any football fan, however it doesn’t quite come off like that with Becoming Zlatan. Whilst it’s an interesting watch, and full of so much footage, the film isn’t a particularly engrossing or innovative one, lacking the style to make a really captivating watch instead of just detailing facts.

But more on that in a minute, because if there’s one thing that’s brilliant about this film, it’s the amount of footage. I don’t know who was filming all these small conversations with Zlatan in his younger years, whether it be on the pitch or sitting around at home, or why, but the incredible depth of footage is amazing to see. If anything, the fact that we get to see so much about Zlatan as a young man humanises him from the global superstar he is today, which was very useful in making the story more interesting to follow.

Another good thing about this documentary is that it focuses very heavily on the football side of things. Sure, there’s a little bit of detailing of his home life and family background, but this caters brilliantly towards football fans by being almost fully focused on Zlatan’s on-pitch antics, as well as his relationship with his teams’ managers, fellow players, and supporters.

On the whole, this film does the job of a documentary very well, and gives an interesting look into the story of how Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to prominence, particularly thanks to its impressive depth of footage and decision to be a more football-focused story.

However, I can’t say that I found the film a particularly engrossing watch. Whilst the facts are interesting to learn about, Becoming Zlatan never had the emotional impact that I was looking for. Take Senna, in my opinion the best documentary of all time, in comparison. That film is so much more than just a detailing of the facts of a racing driver’s career, as it features some incredible emotional power and unpredictability throughout. Becoming Zlatan, on the other hand, just isn’t quite so charged, and that makes the film a little duller to watch.

The other thing that disappointed me about this film is how formulaic its style is. You may think that a documentary doesn’t need style, but again, in comparison to the likes of Senna, the film’s somewhat generic and uninterestingly-paced structure means it’s just not so captivating, and doesn’t feel any more like a feature film than a simple TV documentary.

Overall, whilst I was interested by Becoming Zlatan, thanks to an excellent depth and range of footage and a clear focus on the football side of the story, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by what was a relatively generic documentary that lacked the passion and style to make for a really captivating watch, which is why I’m giving it a 6.9.

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The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com

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