Jane Preston’s documentary attempts to do for Paul Gascoigne what James Toback did for Mike Tyson in his 2008 film Tyson. The film is based around a lengthy recent interview with Gascoigne. The troubled footballer speaks frankly about his childhood, his career and his traumas.
Gazza, the Geordie football genius who lived on a proverbial diet of brown ale and Mars bars, is just as you would expect: engaging, mischievous, funny but also haunted and sometimes just a little bit prey to self-pity as he looks back on the bereavements, injuries and other misfortunes (not least the phone-hacking) he has endured. There’s an engaging innocence about him. When he pretended to play the flute after scoring a goal for Rangers against Celtic, he clearly had no idea of the anti-Catholic symbolism of his gesture – and was utterly startled when the IRA threatened to kill him.
At feature length, the film feels stretched. There are repetitions – we see some of his more celebrated goals several times. Given the intensity of focus on Gazza, the three other interviewees, Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney and José Mourinho, risk seeming a distraction – although Mourinho does have a surprising story about dragging his very pregnant wife to watch Gazza play in the England vs Scotland match at Euro 96.Reuse content