John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection

French movies so often annoy me. I didn’t realize French documentaries would, too. Yet watching Julien Faraut’s documentary “John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection” was…far from perfection.

The last time there was a movie about McEnroe, it was the Borg vs McEnroe picture, which was also playing at the Digital Gym.

Gil de Kermadec filmed the French Open in the mid-80s, so he could analyze McEnroe’s technique for instructional videos. That archival footage is what is used in this. Yet with a personality as bizarre as McEnroe, I would’ve preferred a straightforward documentary. Instead, the film started off with all these instructional videos from the ‘50s. My wife and I were asking each other what was going on. There’s just not a lot of context to what we were watching.

You soon realize, when seeing slow motion and close-ups, that this is a documentary for the diehard tennis fan, or someone that’s young and wants to learn everything they can about the sport. Unfortunately, that makes it boring for the rest of us. It reminds me of the time I was 20 and drove to L.A. to meet Magic Johnson at a book signing. Aside from getting my car towed, with two tickets on the windshield, the book he was selling was geared towards kids learning to play basketball and it bugged me. It was such a boring read, and watching this reminded me of it.

There was one slightly interesting scene that showed him with other tennis stars for a photo shoot, and he looks like he wants nothing to do with being there. He keeps his head down, and is rather fidgety. That made me think of how in the Borg/McEnroe film, we learned he could multiply any combination of numbers together, and I thought perhaps he might be somewhere on the autism scale. I’d like a documentary delving more into that stuff.

This thing got so repetitive with the footage and the narration

I’ll give it half a star for playing a Sonic Youth tune, and I’ll give it a star for the Raging Bull conversation dubbed over McEnroe having one of his famous tantrums.

My wife and I were so bored, we didn’t even finish the thing. Perhaps McEnroe, upon finding out a critic that’s supposed to watch and review it, couldn’t…would get in my face and scream, “You cannot be serious!”

1 ½ out of 5. It wasn’t love with this match.

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