TT 3D: Closer to the Edge
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 28th August 2011
Every now and then a film comes along that restores your faith in the value of moviemaking. More often than not, it’s a documentary.
Films such as Touching the Void and Grizzly Man have taken us places we’d never go on our own, and made for literally breathless viewing. A film that gets us inside the heads and hearts of its characters makes for a much more rewarding movie-going experience than a million rom-coms and comic book adaptations rolled into one (which, it increasingly feels, they are).
Here, sensational 3D photography follows 28-year-old Guy Martin as he prepares to race at the 2010 Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race, arguably the greatest motorcycle road race in the world. Up against the fastest, brightest stars of the racing world, he’s been on the podium enough times, but never taken a win. Vying to be crowned “King of the Mountain” are Ian Hutchison, the softly-spoken David Beckham of the crowd, and local Manx boy Conor Cummins. They are sons of fallen heroes, and racers for whom nothing else in life matters. Everyone has his story, and we hang on their every word.
Of course, core to a good piece of non-fiction storytelling is not just its often stranger-than-fiction journey, but an entertaining and engaging central character. While a film-maker who picks up a camera to shoot real-life events can’t usually predict how things will unfold, they can take a punt on their subject. By following the guts and glory trajectory of the amusing, opinionated, Wolverine-like Martin in this exhilarating race to the top, director Richard De Aragues produces one such stroke of documentary brilliance.
You don’t have to know a Honda from a Ducati, much less care, to be enthralled by every minute of this exquisite emotionally charged film. There are inevitably thrills and spills, joy and tragedy. As one pundit puts it – “if you’re not excited, you’re not alive”.