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The decisive years of Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, told through rare archival footage where a young Zlatan speaks openly about his life and challenges. The film closely follows Zlatan, from his debut in Malmö FF in 1999, through his conflictual years with Ajax Amsterdam, up to the final breakthrough with Juventus in 2005. BECOMING ZLATAN is a coming-of-age film, depicting the complicated journey of this young, talented and troubled player who finally becomes a superstar in the international football world. It's a story about a young talent living under constant pressure. From the teammates in Malmö who think he's too egoistic and only plays for himself. From the tough managers of Ajax who send him to the bench, where he loses his self-confidence. From his father who tells the 18 year old Zlatan: You're nothing. You're nothing special until you've succeeded internationally. Throughout his journey, Zlatan stays true to himself. When he finally succeeds in Italy he also closes ...
I tend to jump at anything which documents any aspect of an elite soccer player. Being raised by two British parents meant receiving a weekly dose of English Premier League.
The focus of this film is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He's known around the world as one of the greatest strikers (forwards) ever to play the game of soccer.
His height and size are also rather noteworthy for this particular game because the level of skill and agility needed to move around with the ball is out of this world. It's but another reason why he is such a fascinating case study.
But I think the most important aspect of this film is the way that the Gertten Directors focus in on his character more than just the skills he acquired.
Ibrahimovic grew up to lower class parents with little money. We learn about his one-sided relationship with a domineering father. And how early in his career, things were quite rough and unpleasant for this young man before they began to drastically improve.
The directors have managed to get Zlatan to share a significant amount of archival footage from his early playing days which is unbelievable to see. You would likely be quite shocked at how different he looks now compared to not that long ago!
What makes this such a well-made account of the player is how accurate the film's message becomes: merely depicting a quiet giant who plays soccer out of the enjoyment had from it. From trying to find time with a girlfriend to the constant harassment by fans when he would perform poorly in matches.
By the end of 100 minutes, you're left in awe at just how genuine a person he is. Always going back to his hometown to support the residents, living in small apartments despite having more than enough money to pay for the lifestyle of the likes of Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo.
I am so glad I came across it. But probably will only work if you follow a professional soccer league of some sorts for context.
----- 7/10 STARS -------- Review by Searsino -----
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