Steve McQueen: The Man and Le MansCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna deliver an insightful post-mortem, 44 years after the death of the ultimate “King of Cool”, with Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans. In this inside baseball documentary the life of notorious film star and wild daredevil, Steve McQueen, is explored from a surprising angle.
Steve McQueen was the undisputed King of Hollywood, ruling the box office in the 1970s with blockbusters like The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt. However, rather than focussing on McQueen’s success as an actor and filmmaker, Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans lays emphasis on his distinct character, his approach to the film set and his love of motor racing. McQueen’s film Le Mans followed the 24-hour race in northwestern France, and he envisioned a documentary-style view that depicted the bravery of race car drivers. Unfortunately, the film lacked a coherent plot or any relevant dialogue, despite the stunning, close-up action shots of speeding cars, which resulted in a box-office disappointment.
Though this documentary revolves around McQueen’s life, his portrayal is less reverent and more critical of his personal and professional life. The participation of McQueen’s cinema colleagues, racing buddies and ex-wife Neile Adams, creates the guise of an authorised biography tribute, but Clarke and McKenna’s inclusion of particularly scathing drama is reminiscent of a “True Hollywood Story”.
Because of this division, the film doesn’t succeed in displaying McQueen’s passion for motor racing, but the archival footage and audiotape are interwoven seamlessly. Examining McQueen’s life through his love of automobiles, rather than his film career, allows the brilliant staging of emotional memories behind the wheel, with accidents, thrills, and a powerful adrenaline addiction. Interestingly, McQueen’s portrayal parallels the concept he wanted for Le Mans: “cars and realism”. The documentary slates McQueen’s womanising ways and reckless, superstar behaviour, instead of adding to his celebrity hubris.
McQueen’s essence is successfully captured, but not to his favour. It stumbles on a rather sad note, which in some ways martyrs him, and compares him to Icarus flying to close to the sun: he flew too high and sought too much. Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans shows Steve McQueen’s immortal fame, fearlessness and recklessness.
Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans is released nationwide on 20th November 2015.
Watch the trailor for Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans here: