The setting is a restaurant and most of the tables are full of people from Messi’s past and present. At one table are seated his primary school teachers, one of whom looks across the restaurant and asks “Who’s that?” pointing to another patron. It is Johan Cruyff. At another, we find Messi’s childhood pals from his Rosario neighbourhood and they all reminisce over photos and various courses. At another table Iniesta, Pique and pals talk about their Barcelona teammate.
And so it goes on via club trainers, football journalists and even his doctor. The diners who are missing are the man himself and any member of his family. In their stead we have scenes with actors playing the parts of Messi from the age of four onwards with his family interspersed with old video footage of the tiny tot playing some stunning football. We glean something of his problematic move from Argentina to Barcelona and learn that he nearly played for Spain. One sweet detail is that Messi’s signature kiss, eyes raised to heaven, after he scores a goal is dedicated to his grandmother, the woman who got him playing. But that’s pretty much it, in terms of insightful, investigative journalism.
The elephant in the room, Maradona, is not actually in the room, but does make a cameo appearance telling Lio how much he loves him. However, he leaves the question of who is the better player up in the air, believing the question should be discussed at the end of Messi’s career. We see some nice archive footage of both players scoring some pretty phenomenal goals, with the pundits pointing out the uncanny similarities between them.
It is clear that Iglesia wanted to come up with a new format for getting information out of his guests, and you can see that a gossiping about someone in a restaurant over a few bottles of wine might work. But why not put the childhood friends with the players, or the teachers with the trainers? They might have made some interesting connections and been able to offer a new take on an old story. There is nobody to nudge the speakers into giving more information, no interviewer probing the interviewees. Instead it’s like being at a wedding but without the groom. At 93 minutes, you would have a much more entertaining time re-watching a classic Barca game. This documentary should really be shown a red card.