Gascoigne, film review: A documentary that reveals the troubled footballer's childhood, career and traumas

Jane Preston, 88 mins

Geoffrey Macnab
Friday 05 June 2015 10:23 BST
Paul Gascoigne in ‘Gascoigne’
Paul Gascoigne in ‘Gascoigne’

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.

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