Review: Senna

  Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.04.34 AMThis one is hard for me because it's in my top five. I mean, so much of it can't be touched with words. But I'll try ... at least I'll try to get you to watch it if you haven't.

Just as a note, whenever this film beckons me, I watch it again because I know it's for a deep reason and I'll be balanced somehow by it--it has a power I can't explain, to ground me into myself and feel understood. I think this man made a lot of people feel this way just by existing.

You go into this one thinking you're going to watch 1.5 hours or so of cars along ribbons of tarmac, announcers, some hot Brazilian race car driver spouting off about fame. At least I did, kind of. And I love race cars, and fast cars, and just ... cars, so I wasn't so turned off but wasn't so eager, either.

But then, people were saying it's a "spiritual" experience. So I was like "huh, let's do this then."

I rented it through Apple, sat down, watched, cried my eyes out, hit menu and play, and watched it again. I watched it as a single double feature the first time folks. And every time I watch it, it's like the first time.

First of all, logistically, the soundtrack, by Antonio Pinto--who also infused the movie City of God--is impeccable for the purpose. And the footage they dug up is unbelievable. The way it's all directed and edited (I like to say choreographed because this implies elegance) just baffles. The director, Asif Kapadia, and writer, Manish Pandey, deserve so much credit. Pandey is an orthopedic surgeon for crying out loud!

This film starts out as a sketch around the politics of racing yet, through some swift yet subtle turns, plunges you into the heart and soul of a man who is old beyond his years. A man who was born to appear a hot-shot yet is really anything but.

As I watched, as the music calmed me deeper and deeper into the message, I couldn't move. I just froze and observed a person so in touch with their soul that it squeezed my throat.

We see him misunderstood, praised, winning, sharing, being his hot self. But underneath there is something so profound going on. And above it all there is a sense of mysticism around his very being that, in the end, draws the largest funeral to that date in human history around his passage out of his body.

A few things that strike me the most about this man's life (and the way it's framed by this film) follow:

•We all have moments where we see something nobody else does, where we must suck it up and continue. His life is a reflection on this part of our experience that we all need once in a while.

•He never took credit--he always surrendered it up, to God, to spirit.

•He lived in spirit and it was HIS business. It wasn't a show. It was his mode of operation that, if noticed, was insanely difficult to keep up through the illusions that fame throws at a human being.

•He sublimated his anger and ego--while you could see the struggle, which is part of the magic because you can relate to it--he was an incredible alchemist given the circumstances.

•He always knew he would die young. Even though he didn't want to know. The struggle of him not wanting to know is what this film lifts out with genius. You observe him throughout the film, wrestling with an ego that was growing despite his constant efforts to check it. An ego that wanted to win, that couldn't stop even though his soul knew better, that wanted to live longer without changing--that wanted to have what it eventually ate.

•Ego fought but lost the match right before he died--in those last nerve-wracked hours. Over the film you witnessed it growing, yet something in him, something of spirit, didn't want that ego--knew it was headed for its own destruction. And as a viewer, I gasp and clutch my chest each time to witness destiny rise up on such a situation and plunge a sword straight through a human's struggle with duality.

I watched this again last night and, although I should have expected it, was shocked at how much I cried all over again, like I hadn't seen it before. There is an arc to this film that just sucks you in. It's a total experience--an attempt to capture what watching his life must have been like for his fans, in real time.

If you like racing, you will love this movie. If you are on a spiritual path, you will love this movie. If you like hot Brazilian men who drive fast cars, you will love this movie.

It's a value-add folks, and I bow humbly and gratefully to those who put it together.