David Beckham: Into the Unknown (2014) Directed by Anthony Mandler

It really is my fault that we've been so quiet here this last month. The World Cup. In simple terms, the World Cup in Brazil has taken all my attention and film viewing has been at a minimum. Combine this with a daily addiction to the 2000's Battlestar Galactica series remake and it equals no time for movies. The World Cup 2014 edition has of course compensated for any lack of drama normally generated from watching movies. Controversial events have been the order of the day, from rubbish referring to dodgy sending off's, to bites and knees in the back, the drama of course has come from some unexpected sources. But, most of all, the football has been of a high standard and really entertaining. As a prelude to the World Cup, the BBC commissioned a documentary where David Beckham travels to the Amazonian rainforest with a bunch of drinking buddies, bringing us a supposed expose and the truth behind the man, David Beckham: Into the Unknown. This would be a an adventure into the darkest forests of Brazil, something Beckham has never experienced, his own heart of darkness. What would we/he find there?

Beckham, with bike and perfect hair in the Amazon.
Beckham gave up football last year and judging from this documentary he hasn't really found anything that he's passionate about since hanging up his boots. A revealing first scene shows Victoria stressing how David's hair will cope with the Amazonian conditions.  The good buddies he's taking along seem a disparate bunch, with the documentary hardly focusing on his companions – this is all about DB and his world view. And here lies the problem. Despite being one of the most recognisable faces in the world (something Beckham himself keeps reminding us by mentioning if anyone will recognise him in the Amazon) and certainly one of the most iconic people, Beckham is as interesting to listen to as watching paint dry. Simpleton. Really, he has nothing to say. Therefore, any insistence on intimacy and revelations about Beckham, are simply unfounded as there is nothing to reveal. Vacuous does not come near.

Brand Beckham
Still, David Beckham: Into the Unknown is generally entertaining on a really base level. Watching men on motorbikes (and trying to keep their hair looking good throughout) and then camping in the Amazon, going upriver until ending their trip meeting up with the remote Yanomami tribe could have had a sense of danger and real adventure. But everything here, from the beach football in Rio to the muddy motorbike rides and impromptu fishing trips, feels stage managed and another chapter in the consolidation of Brand Beckham. Video director Mandler gets under the skin of Beckham on a couple of rare occasions, where we sense that Beckham is deeply unsatisfied with his superstar life and immersed with a desperate feeling of loneliness. But David simply doesn't have the chops to articulate any meaningful feelings about this, even if he wanted to. Shallow doesn't come near describing this. I'm sure for most people, this leaves Brand Beckham intact. No surprises here.

So we have been silent here on this film blog due to my two last chemo treatments and largely due to the World Cup in Brazil. My movie-mate has been sucked into the endless games and if I have felt like watching something alone, it has often been called Orange is the New Black (the Netflix original TV series). Hooray, I'm done with chemo, and the World Cup 2014 is nearing its end too! I cannot wait to tell you about a real movie like The Grand Budapest Hotel. But before we continue with the usual reviews, here's my two cents on David Beckham's ride in the Amazon: how boring can things get?

That's my question. Because how is it seriously possible that you have one of the most famous men in the world on screen, you have a steaming dangerous Amazonian adventure, you have extra cuties with motorbikes and hammocks, you have an indigenous tribe, beers, snakes and so on...but you end up with nothing exciting? Nothing. David Beckham appears like a man who has wasted most of his life realising other people's dreams and is now lost at sea, when he could finally LITERALLY do what ever he wanted. He has the money. And everything else.  But he is afraid to jump somehow. Like he makes the effort to go all the way to the Amazon, but then he won't swim in the water with his mates because he is scared of the anacondas. And of course Victoria and the children pop up regularly – nice if you are his wife or kid, but pathetic for the viewing masses. Even Beckham's best buddies are so bored they get their best kicks from seeing if the locals know who they are travelling with...fame.

What a strange documentary to produce just before the Brazil World Cup with the world's most famous footballer, but not really discuss what football culture is in Brazil and how David Beckham relates. A missed opportunity in teaching me something about football or Brazil. Or anything. Yet, I was happily entertained for a moment, until I realised that this doc was never going to reveal another level, a hidden thought, a revelation or even a new tattoo.


Popular Posts