Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Class of 92 + Live Q and A

Glory, Glory, Man United

Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and the Neville Brothers: the famous graduates of the 1992 Manchester United youth team. Under the steady tutelage of Alex Ferguson these six young men went on to dominate English football for the next two decades. Their treble-winning triumph in 1999 is the centrepiece of this fun documentary.

What are the chances of directors Ben and Gabe Turner being Old Trafford supporters? Like the makers of Senna their production is embellished with an admiration, verging on sycophancy, for their idolised subjects. The darker side of Ferguson’s team is glossed over completely in favour of an almost poetic retelling of past glories. Whether you buy into this narrative primarily depends on which football team you support.

However, soccer is only one aspect of the film’s central themes. Indeed, this is a study of close male friendship, dressing room banter and colourful anecdotes. Essentially a group of thirty-somethings recall the heady days of their youth with romantic glee.

Disappointingly, none of the most interesting questions are asked of the sextet. In particular, the notable absence of Alex Ferguson is especially damaging. Considering he had such a significant influence on his club it seems odd to only feature him in the most minimal of ways. To my mind the MUFC team was defined by its sour-faced manager and midfield Irish pit bull. Without their input the story relies on jarring ‘celebrity’ interviews with Tony Blair, Danny Boyle and someone from the Stone Roses.

Ultimately, Class of 92 is a pretty, if not insightful, portrait of sport and camaraderie. For instance, Giggs’ famous wonder goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup is given the full Hollywood treatment. As the camera slowly bobbed and weaved with the same delicate poise of the Welshman’s feet, I found myself in the stadium, witnessing a lost moment as though it were happening for the first time. This beautiful piece of filmmaking is by far the highlight of the documentary.

After the screening the audience was shown a Q+A with the players via a live satellite from Leicester Square. Sky Sports News presenter, Kirsty Gallagher, struggled to achieve much more than awkward mumblings from most of the group, although the Neville brothers clearly relish their time in the limelight. It was a strange novelty which probably won’t be repeated any time soon.


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