This thrilling documentary follows the life of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna: from his childhood in Brazil as a successful go-kart rider, to the heights of international motor racing. Spanning a breathless, eventful decade, from the mid-1980s to his untimely death in 1994, Kapadia uses home video and archival footage to trace Senna's meteoric rise to the top of his sport and reveal the man behind the racer. Senna's rivalry with French champion Alain Prost is explored, as well as his profound Catholic faith and enduring love of his mother country.
"Senna" is indeed one incredible ride, albeit one that ends tragically. Using new audio interviews with many of the main characters in his life (Senna's sister, reporters, doctors, F-1 pros), we get a multi-faceted portrayal of a young man whose professional life contrasted strongly with his personal one. Shy and humble away from racing, Senna was an arrogant, totally ruthless driver, often cited by his rivals for recklessness. His unfolding rivalry with Prost, the more seasoned champion, is fascinating to watch. Wisely, Kapadia never resorts to a typical talking heads documentary style, letting the images do the talking. Senna's POV camera mounted in his car provides a jarring sense of the sport's inherent danger. You may know the outcome of Senna's final race, but you'll watch breathlessly anyway.