In case you don’t have the chance to catch Seve the Movie, here’s a rundown: characters interact with golfer Seve Ballesteros over both banal and important matters. Seve responds by expressing how much he loves golf, intercut with archive footage from pro golf tours he’ll later play in.
Young Severiano Ballesteros has a knack for golf (and taking any conversation and redirecting it towards golf, and how much he likes the sport). Growing up in small-town Spain, Seve leads the life of a typical small-town boy…except that he’s obsessed with golf. His brothers play it, but he is too young to play on the course. Instead, he takes on a job as a caddy, sneaking in swings whenever he can. Eventually the players at the club – and the rest of the coast of Spain – catch on to how talented Seve is. The go-getter does his family proud, and will soon be considered the greatest golfer in the world.
John-Paul Davidson’s Seve the Movie is heavy-handed, to say the least. As you can tell, Seve is presented as having a one-track mind: he freakin’ loves golf. Good for him, though, to have such a strong a passion for something; bad for a filmmaker who can’t grasp the concept of subtly. Seve’s ambition in Seve the Movie is simply overdone to the point of hilarity: when Seve begins to sensually caress another man’s clubs, it’s hard not to laugh. And if you think that’s funny, watch him herd cows with a three iron – it’s a hoot.
The big issue is that there isn’t any story or character drama present. In place, there are interactions, with some mild and temporary disagreements. Seve the Movie is more of an expression of appreciation for Severiano Ballesteros than a film with an enticing narrative. It’s obvious that effort went into the making of this film, and it paid off: everything looks top notch, and the acting – although hammy at times from José Luis Gutiérrez’s portrayal of a younger Severiano – is seamless. It just doesn’t have anything in particular to say about the professional’s life – or anything else, for that matter – other than “from a young age, Seve really liked golf and was very good at it.”
The docudrama format John-Paul Davidson embraces works well when he integrates both styles. The usage of audio interviews with Ballesteros over the dramatized portions of the film is a nice touch, and adds perspective and depth to an otherwise empty characterization. However, the film is already too long and struggles with pacing, so the additional footage of PGA tours during the 1970s and 1980s just makes Davidson’s movie bloated.
If you enjoy golf, then you will probably find this film as thrilling as watching the PGA Tour on television. If you don’t enjoy golf, then you will probably find Seve the Movie as thrilling as watching the PGA Tour on television.
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Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery