In one of his last interviews, George Best stated that he wanted to be remembered as the best football (better known as soccer in North America) players that ever lived. He did not want people to focus on the aspects of his life that occurred off the field. As director Daniel Gordon shows in his documentary George Best: All by Himself separating the athlete from the man is not an easy thing to do.
Using archival footage, audio recordings featuring Best, and interviews with family, friends and former teammates, Gordon constructs an intriguing look at the sport’s first pop star. Signed to play with famed Manchester United while still in his teens, Best’s undeniable talent and good looks made him a hit with both women and the media. That fame came at a price though.
He may have been a magician on the football pitch, but outside of the stadium his vices took over. An alcoholic before alcoholism was consider a disease, Best’s addiction manifested in several self-destructive ways.
George Best: All by Himself does a solid job of showing the two sides of Best’s turbulent career. There are times when Gordon’s film seems to wrestle with how much of the darker aspects of his downward spiral to highlight. Though his lengthy battle with alcoholism is documented, his volatile nature – which included fights in bars, assaulting his wife, and a brief stint in jail – is only briefly touched upon.
George Best’s career may not have been the great Shakespearean tragedy the film claims it to be, but that does not make it any less fascinating. In that regards, George Best: All by Himself is an effective look at the how easily alcoholism can drastically darken the brightest of stars.
Sunday, March 4, 4 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox