To enjoy Senna, you don’t need to be a racing fan, heck, you don’t even need to understand cinema etiquette judging by the two men searching for seat numbers in my screening. For a film to marry together spectators from such different persuasions is quite an achievement. Senna appears to be a rather brave documentary on the surface. With no through narrative, no talking heads, and a total reliance on archived footage, it makes for a stripped-down portrayal of arguably F1’s greatest ever driver.
Considering I know next to nothing about Formula One, (except that Lewis Hamilton is dating an ex-Pussycat Doll) Senna manages to pique the interest of even the most uneducated audience. It lets emotion lead the way, portraying Senna as a demi-God worshiped by Brazilians, and casting team mate turned rival Alain Prost, as the pantomime villain. The documentary only casts an eye over Ayrton’s richly privileged background, his deeply religious disposition, and his native martyrdom, all of which would have provided a much deeper, and possibly less biased, portrayal. However, even as an intense study of a prolific racing driver, it sucks you into the political and moneyed world of racing, often in a touchingly comic manner. Despite the well-known ending of the documentary, Kapadia still managed to push you to the edge of your seat as you wait for the inevitable moment. Senna may not leave an emotional permanence, but this is still a gripping, if formulaic, sports documentary with an impressively all-encompassing appeal