The documentary tells the story (and it is very much a story) of the England football team's 1990 Italian World Cup. And, well, its just excellent. Yes, the reconstructions leave a lot to be desired - theres only so many times you can watch staged boots kick grass - but this documentary's heart is firmly in the right place. It works hard to highlight the way social and political issues can surround the game of football; the way that a discursive atmosphere is set up around tournaments by the media. We see the effect of the Poll Tax riots, the blundering nature of politicians in sport and, most importantly of all, hooliganism. The real aim, however, is to show that on the pitch none of this really matters and, as a result, this footie-doc hits all the right notes.
Gary Oldman's narration is spot-on, soberly reading Erksine's perfectly poised script; England's backline is "creaking, buckling" apparently. Erksine's showing of Waddle's last, tragic spot kick wisely never leaves the player and is shown as one, long take during which it becomes clear that footballers are heroic. In this current climate of sexual scandal and enormous salaries, One Night in Turin is, or at least should be, a wake up call. One scene, if thats the right word, is utterly heartbreaking. The lip-reading of Bobby Robson's consolations to Paul Gascoigne during the preparations for penaltys will make you weep like 'Gazza' himself.
Some reviewers at the time bemoaned the documentary for lack of original insights. My sense is that if you are a die-hard football fan who spent the tournament glued to the screen this may ring true. But if, like this reviewer, you weren't alive in 1990 and so never witnessed this amazing story, One Night in Turin is an excellent way to prepare for Euro 2012.