John McEnroe in the Realm of Perfection
John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection

John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection 12A


Please note: This was screened in May 2019

Julien Faraut
John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Mathieu Amalric
95 mins, 2018, France
Primary language:
French / English

“The instructional sports film meets Andy Warhol screen test.” -

“Cinema lies. Sport does not.” - Jean Luc Godard

Perhaps the greatest film ever made about tennis and one of the best films about the medium of cinema itself, Julien Faraut's entertaining, imaginative and innovative archive documentary about the notoriously temperamental tennis world champion John McEnroe is like no other sports film you’ve ever seen.

In his prime, John McEnroe was legendary not only for his sporting brilliance but also for his petulance, tending to use the court as a personal stage for his displays of unrestrained self. Built from a gold mine of archive footage shot by the unknown photographer Gil de Kermadec (who spent his career recording the intricacies of the game), Faraut's film examines the player’s relationship to the camera, which McEnroe treated at once as an additional opponent and as a supporting actor in his own personal psychodrama, to create a masterpiece of aesthetics, control and emotion-fuelled brutality - everything that filmmaking and sports have in common.

Against a score by Sonic Youth and Black Flag, sport, art, film and French philosophy intersect into a riot of intellectual rock 'n' roll, to create an immersive look at a driven athlete, a study on the sport of tennis, the human body and movement, and how these all intersect with cinema itself. Even if you’ve never seen a tennis match in your life, the infectious enthusiasm and constant wit of this fascinating film will leave you both uplifted and electrified.

Download Programme Notes (PDF)