George Best: All By Himself

For those who do not follow football, the George Best story is a sad one. The Belfast Boy’s life is routinely separated by the media into two distinctive parts: first his rise as an inventive winger while playing for Manchester United in the mid-to-late 1960s, culminating in a starring role in his club’s first European Cup win and the kind of press profile shared only by a Beatle or two; and, secondly, the way that his subsequent playboy lifestyle derailed his career, with the remainder of Best’s life defined by a struggle with alcoholism that would eventually lead to his early death at the age of 59. It’s a shame, then, that this new documentary fails to present much new insight for those already familiar with George Best, despite the presence of loved ones who knew him intimately (ex-wives, but not his son) and former team mates and friends who spent years in his company (Paddy Crerand being one example). The film covers his career and all the damage he caused away from the pitch in a competent fashion, mixing its talking heads with the expected archive footage; the problem with the latter is the relative paucity of live football recorded during the 1960s and 1970s, compared to today, meaning that anyone who cares will have already seen Best’s showreel of great goals dozens of times already. (**½)