Review: Best (George Best: All By Himself) (2017)

The latest look at the rise and fall of George Best, the greatest footballer to ever come out of Northern Ireland.

From the BBC, ESPN and Dogwoof studios comes a story about how a man had the world at his feet, but his demons ultimately led to his downfall.

George Best was one of the best players to have ever graced the field. Brazilian legend Pele said that he was ‘at one time the best player in the world,’ but his life off the pitch was often the thing most talked about and most associated with him. Best (George Best: All By Himself) comes nearly 12 years after his death back in 2005 due to liver damage as a result of the excessive lifestyle he lived, and it is one that does not assume or judge, it is a true testament to the legendary man.

The first scene is one that would appear to be the beginning of the end. Angie Best (George’s first wife and mother of Calum) can be heard over a grey shot of a car windshield. This is where she sees her husband, drunk and staggering home in the middle of the road. This is the moment she realises she can’t do it anymore and leaves him.

Similar to the critically acclaimed documentaries about Amy Winehouse and Ayrton Senna, this one does not have a narrator. It is reliant on interview content and archive footage, which is a very effective way of presenting it, allowing the audience to experience it with them and to make their own judgements. You’ll hear the opinions of the interviewees, people like Mike Summerbee, Pat Crerand and archive interviews with Sir Matt Busby.

The first half is very much focused on the rise of the little boy from Belfast, from his early days with family, to his rise to the first team at Manchester United, then on to that incredible 4-1 victory over Benfica in 1968. The the second half is where things start to go downhill for Best, focusing on his multiple disappearances from training, his drinking, to his move elsewhere.

They give you a little glimmer of hope when he plays for San Jose Earthquakes and scores a fantastic goal, one that would eventually be crowned ‘goal of the season.’ When collecting the award, George would turn to alcohol once again and this would end up being what led him down his final path for the next 30 years until his death.

This documentary allows the audience to empathise with the situation, about a young boy thrust into the limelight at the tender age of 17. A beautifully edited journey into the man’s psyche and how that affected those around him, whom he held dearest. This is a powerful piece that successfully portrays the feelings, back during the times of great jubilation and those of unbearable frustration and despair. An honest and fitting tribute to “the best player to ever put on a Northern Ireland shirt.”

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