The Great Brazilian Promise
This Is Paris
Neymar: The Perfect Chaos is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, this three-part docu-series aims to lift the veil and portray the true side of the world’s most expensive footballer, Neymar Jr. But yet what we get instead is a glossy, very carefully constructed docu-series that looks at the trials and tribulations of this Brazilian superstar.
Seen by many as a bit of a prima donna, this documentary aims to set the record straight, tackling key moments in this young man’s life. Given he’s been a star since he was 14 years old, Neymar Jr. has done a lot in the 16 years since he debuted.
From the highs of Barcelona to the lows felt with the Brazilian national team, all the way across to the star-studded move to PSG, these three episodes pack an awful lot of information into the series.
There’s a pretty consistent timeline through Neymar’s ongoing career though, told through the eyes of Neymar Sr. and a handful of journalists and family members who have followed his career thus far. We do also hear from Neymar Jr., although personally I think it would have felt more authentic had we heard all the big stories from him, rather than those around him.
And therein lies the big problem with this series – authenticity. Neymar’s brand image has been controlled by his father since he was 12 years old. There are several archival shots here too of Neymar Jr being prepared for interviews, even as a young boy as he’s told to confidently say his name louder for the camera.
It’s perhaps a little disappointing them to find his manager, mentor and father, Neymar Sr., as the one who get’s the lion’s share of the interview time. The ensuing result feels very glossy and candid.
It’s really hard to know if the Neymar we’re seeing during the “fly-on-the-wall” footage is genuine or if there’s an air of playing up to the camera too. That’s especially apparent given how often Neymar glances over in the direction of the camera. In fact, several times he looks directly at the lens (which wisely cuts just as he does.)
These little moments are subtle but they’re enough to cast a few doubts over whether this is the real Neymar Jr. This really isn’t helped by Neymar Sr. boasting in episode 1 that they’re building a brand. A brand to continue on long after Neymar Jr has retired.
To be fair to The Perfect Chaos, this documentary does dive into some of the more pressing issues in Neymar’s life. The rape allegation is discussed, while there’s a good chunk of run-time dedicated to Neymar’s relationship with his son too. All of this is decent material but these glimmers of authenticity feel too infrequent.
“I don’t care what you think of me. Judge me by my actions on the pitch.” Neymar says at one point, but the true irony here is that his on-pitch action is a double-edged sword. Much like the picture of his face up in his living room, there’s the Joker (rolling around and play-acting on the floor) and the Batman (a triumphant hero who scores some phenomenal goals.)
Whether you love him or hate him, this documentary will do absolutely nothing to change your opinion on Neymar Jr. There’s a glossy veil hanging over all of this; a slickly produced and carefully choreographed documentary that promises to put Neymar in the spotlight and show the real man behind the footballing talent. But does it really? I have my doubts.
Verdict - 5/10