Stuart Weir gets some of our toughest assignments. This one was to review and attend the opening for the new Usain Bolt movie. Our friend in athletics did a nice job!
I managed to get myself an invitation to the IAMBOLT PremiÃ¨re in London. I confess I have not been invited to a great number of PremiÃ¨res in my life! (Just less than 1, in fact). My justification for asked for an invitation was that I had been in the stadium at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics to see Usain Bolt win all three of his Olympic trebles – not to mention seeing him in 4 World Championships and a few Diamond Leagues.
It was a fun event to attend with the man himself speaking from the stage to introduce the evening. I was accompanied by the web editor of Athletics Weekly, who proved excellent company but just as poor as I was at celebrity spotting. I did see Jonathan Edwards, Mo Farah and Chelsea footballer, Cesc Fabergas. I am told that former Spice Girl, Geri Horner, Salina Hayek, Tallia Storm, Liam Payne and Sean Paul were among those representing music and Shown Biz.
IAMBOLT is a documentary by Ben and Gabe Turner, not a drama. It includes action footage of some of his principal races but the real value of the film is the unrivalled access to Bolt who allowed a camera to follow him around and record his thoughts before and after particular races. He appears to speak openly and honestly allowing himself to be caught in some unguarded moments. The viewer feels he know Bolt a little after viewing it. The film revealed more of Usain Bolt the person, than I might have expected.
The Athletics Weekly review by Euan Crumley said: “It actually gets right under the skin of this superstar and reveals a depth not previously apparent in a man usually to be found owning his stage and commanding his crowd”. I thought that a very fair assessment.
He comes across as very human, at times expressing anxiety in the run up to Rio. He admits to lacking self-confidence at times, wondering, despite all his achievements if he still is the best. Injury – what agent Ricky Simms calls “his biggest rival” – is a source of worry to him.
In press conferences, I have heard him, talk about spending hours playing computer games because he cannot go out and do normal things without being mobbed. The film reveals something of his exciting, glamorous but, at times, boring life.
For me the most fascinating insight was Bolt’s reaction to remarks by Justin Gatlin in a TV interview. Bolt clearly felt disrespected by the convicted drugs cheat, who, as Bolt points out, has never beaten him in a championship race. While in public, Bolt normally plays down the rivalry been the pair, privately it clearly means a lot to him not to be beaten by Gatlin.
An excellent film. Catch it in a cinema, as a digital download on DVD or Blu-Ray.