Kenny is a biopic by Stewart Sugg and paints a visceral portrait of beloved footballer and manager Kenny Dalglish, who won six league titles for Liverpool yet simultaneously experienced three of football’s most notorious tragedies. Sugg’s film examines how the sportsman still struggles to come to terms with the agonising disasters he experienced at Ibrox, Heysel and Hillsborough between 1971 and 1989. Dalglish was initially unwilling to step back from the trauma, and instead sought to wholly support bereaved families and fans, attending funerals and visiting the injured, which resulted in a near-breakdown and sudden early retirement from the club in 1991.
Sugg’s bold and touching documentary is a mosaic of clips from Dalglish’s football-playing days, news excerpts, interviews with family members and re-enactments, forming a well-rounded insight into the footballer, manager and family man, focusing not only on calamity but also his expertise on the field. It is in these flashbacks to Dalglish’s floppy hair and over-grown schoolboy charm, that his remarkable endurance in maintaining such an incredible career despite multiple obstacles becomes apparent. There is, however, a notable double narrative to his story: a clear contrast between the sorrow that lines his eyes and the glottal Glaswegian accent that lines his lips, highlighting the complexities to Dalglish’s character and revealing the colossal impact the sport has had on his personal life.
It was after Hillsborough that his family noticed the most devastating change to his personality, his children even revealing that 27 years later, they had still never spoken about the tragedy with their father. Dalglish’s pain from the 1989 disaster still boils at the surface of his consciousness – it’s a subject that is usually and desperately avoided. Perhaps most poignant is the sudden cut in the film to aerial footage of Dalglish driving along the bucolic roads of Sheffield’s hills. The atmosphere appears tranquil, the panoramic countryside stretches to the horizon and trees dance beneath a cloudless sky. Suddenly, Dalglish pulls over his Audi and slowly emerges from the car walking towards a clearing at the end of the small agrarian road. The change in his composure is remarkable as he looks over the verdant hills onto the grounds of Hillsborough. The arena consumes the landscape, protruding like an open wound that won’t heal; instead providing only timeless anguish to Dalglish and the hundreds of families that still ache from the 1989 ordeal.
Kenny is released nationwide on the 17th November 2017.
Watch the trailer for Kenny here: