L' Empire de la perfection

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
Julien Faraut
FRA 2018
95 min

What comes to mind when you think of a five-set match, when you think of the big screen? Presence, action, movement? Drama, emotion, performance? Perspective, construction, the thrill of the unpredictable? Such connections might be obvious in retrospect, but making them needs finesse. Julien Faraut’s essay charts a wonderfully circuitous path between tennis and cinema, starting with the instructional film on John McEnroe made by French Tennis Federation technical director Gil de Kermadec and ending with the superstar’s epic 1984 French Open tussle with Ivan Lendl. As De Kermadec shot far more 16mm footage than was used in the final film, Faraut has realms of archive material to illustrate his ideas: the ghostly slowed-down images that reference the movement studies once carried out on the site of Roland Garros; the shots of McEnroe carving up the court to create time, like the great filmmakers admired by critic Serge Daney; all the psychology implied by seeing McEnroe’s mother watch her son play. You could easily be forgiven for believing that racquet and camera were one and the same, if it weren’t for that pesky phrase by Godard that bookends the film: cinema lies, sport doesn’t. (James Lattimer)

In the presence of Julien Faraut.

  • John McEnroe
  • Julien Faraut
  • Julien Faraut
  • Léon Rousseau
  • Andrei Bogdanov
  • Serge Teyssot Gat
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