Amazon’s Ho-Hum Roger Federer Doc – "amazon" – Google News

When it comes to the Big Three who have dominated men’s tennis for the past two decades, I’ve always favored Roger Federer over rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Federer’s game had a multi-surface brilliance and beauty that rarely got obscured by anything extraneous — off-court drama, on-court excesses. You could marvel at the reliable wizardry of a Federer performance and just assume that, in his utterly wholesome boringness, he wouldn’t let you down as a person either.

And that’s the furthest thing from an insult. Roger Federer always presented as a completely decent person and a miraculous tennis player.

Federer: Twelve Final Days

The Bottom Line

As controlled as Federer could have hoped for.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Documentary)
Airdate: Thursday, June 20 (Amazon)
Directors: Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia

1 hour 28 minutes

So when I call Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia‘s Federer: Twelve Final Days, a new documentary premiering at Tribeca ahead of its Amazon airing, comfortably dull, that’s another way of saying that it’s probably precisely the documentary that Federer would have wanted made about himself.

There’s worthwhile emotion that comes from the filmmakers’ ample access to Federer and many of his contemporaries as they muse on the end of an era, made all the more poignant by the recent French Open fates of Nadal and Djokovic. Plus, it’s generally entertaining to watch Federer highlights. But it would be difficult to convince anybody without a pre-existing interest that this constitutes compelling storytelling on any level.

Focusing, as the title suggests, on the 12-day period between Federer’s announcement of his retirement and his final performance, a doubles match with Nadal at the 2022 Laver Cup, Twelve Final Days is a story about control.

Federer’s career was defined by control, in terms of his on-court performance and off-court maintenance of his body. When he reached the point at which he no longer felt he had the necessary control, he decided to step away, doing so in a fitting manner that gave him full authority over his exit. He set the time and the place at a tournament that he, not coincidentally, helped found. And the tournament — an international points-based showdown, not a win-and-advance structure — allowed him to guarantee that his participation would be only a single match.

This is not a “one last run at the title”-style story with dramatic stakes and the possibility of glory — see The Last Dance or the Jimmy Connors 30 for 30 installment This Is What They Want. No, it’s just a home movie of a valedictory moment, which is exactly what Federer: Twelve Final Days was originally intended to be.

So what does Federer: Twelve Final Days consist of? Well, it’s at least 16 minutes of Federer preparing his farewell social media post and then wondering if he needs to push up the release time to avoid having the news spoiled elsewhere. It’s dull — we watch him record the announcement and then the filmmakers play the announcement again when it goes live — but mutedly illuminating, as we see Federer, wife Mirka, his four kids and his team handling the quiet build-up with sparks of nervousness and notes of humor. Then it’s maybe 45 minutes of Federer doing press conferences and hugging all his friends and rivals when they show up for the Laver Cup. Again, it’s dull — tennis luminaries from John McEnroe to Bjorn Borg appear almost in an orchestrated procession — but the hugs and tiny conversations are unforced and sweet in their low-key admiration.

Then it’s perhaps 15 minutes of tennis (probably less), in which the editors try to create the illusion of excitement, even though it’s one step up from a glorified exhibition match. That part’s not dull, exactly, but shows like Netflix’s Break Point have raised the bar for how access and technology can be used to capture tennis action in a unique way; this is not on that level.

Then it’s 10 minutes of men crying, the greatest impact coming not from Federer’s tears, but from the reactions by Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, which somehow underline the “end of an era” feeling more than anything Federer says or does himself. Seeing those contemporaries, so different from Federer on and off the court, respond to Federer is in all ways more interesting than watching Federer’s own close grasp on the proceedings. And even this feels like exactly what Federer would have preferred — to let his peers’ tears upstage his own.

Perhaps in the transition from “Let’s make a home movie that nobody will ever see” to “Let’s make a movie that we can play at festivals and on Amazon,” somebody decided to add a very rudimentary Federer biography and some classic Federer footage. But it’s a perfunctory add-on, and not the meat of the documentary. And if somebody instead said, “Let’s make a documentary on why Roger Federer was great,” this is not it.

So Federer: Twelve Final Days is not the definitive Roger Federer retrospective and it certainly isn’t the retrospective on The Big Three that somebody will eventually produce, pondering how these three contenders for Greatest of All Time status competed, coexisted and somehow became friends or at least mutual admirers. It also doesn’t feel much like an Asif Kapadia (Amy) film, and I’m a huge admirer of his. It’s a snapshot of a conclusion and a moment. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to watch.

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‘Federer: Twelve Final Days’

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Amazon’s Ho-Hum Roger Federer Doc – “amazon” – Google News