The Missing Ponytail
Roberto Baggio is a special player. From 490 appearances he scored 220 goals. He also remains the only Italian to have scored in three separate World Cups. This incredibly gifted man has played at Juventus, AC Milan and even Inter Milan, going on to live a very successful life despite the adversities surrounding him.
This sort of glittering career is rife for a sports biopic so it’s perhaps more disappointing then that Baggio: The Divine Ponytail is anything but divine. In fact, this lackluster and forgettable drama skims the surface of this man’s legacy, missing out crucial information in favour of constant time jumps and a cliff-notes version of Baggio’s life.
The film begins with some promise, charting Roby’s roots as an 18 year old on the cusp of playing in Serie A, the top division in Italian football. Between the estranged relationship with his father and a career-threatening injury, Roby battles back through grit, determination and his newfound faith after finding Buddhism.
This forms the crux of Roby’s character as the film skips forward sporadically, missing crucial characterization while the movie rockets through this man’s life. Even the action on the pitch is lacking, with fleeting shots of football shoved aside in favour of reaction shots from friends and family we never really spend any time with.
Instead, the movie relies heavily on tropes we’ve seen a million times before but never diving in deep enough to understand this character – or care. Early on, the movie jumps six years into the future, missing Baggio’s rise to the top and immediately seeing him at the top of his game.
Likewise, a crushing defeat at the hands of Brazil late on sees Baggio’s world turned upside down. Only, we don’t see this. Instead, the movie jumps forward six years rather than allowing Andrea Arcangeli to really dive into the psyche of this character and pour his emotion into this.
The result is a film that feels like it’s in such a hurry to tie everything together that it’s missing crucial scenes that were chopped and spliced together hurriedly in the editing room.
There’s just no emotion here, flatlining this movie into an indifferent football flick rather than a genuinely moving and emotional drama. In fact, the most emotionally stirring moment comes during the credits at the end, where actual archival footage shows Baggio being cheered and applauded after his last match. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about this film I don’t know what will.
This is a tepid, forgettable biopic that doesn’t do this Italian legend justice. Roberto Baggio was an extraordinary talent but you wouldn’t know it by watching this film. Instead, what we get is a perfect example of how not to tell a biopic with a sheer lack of show don’t tell.
Much like Baggio’s penalty miss, this film shoots for the back of the net and wildly misses the mark, ending up in the obscurity of the stands instead. This is one to avoid.