Best (12A)

Four stars

Dir: Daniel Gordon

Runtime: 92 minutes

SINCE the Oscar-winning success of Amy, the bar for biographical documentaries has been set high. Daniel Gordon’s portrait of George Best clears it by a mile.

The story of the gorgeous Belfast boy who played the beautiful game is a challenge for any filmmaker. So much of Best’s rise and fall has been documented that there is a danger of simply padding over old ground. True, Gordon’s film contains no revelations, no Holy Grail piece of footage. But the quality of the contributors, and the way the director of A State of Mind deftly assembles his material, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions, make for an outstanding piece.

Scots feature prominently among the talking heads, with fellow Manchester United legend Paddy Crerand, and Hugh McIlvanney, the Johan Cruyff of sportswriting, putting Best’s sporting achievements into perspective. Both wives, Angie and Alex, speak candidly about the devastation wrought by his alcoholism.

Best’s story does indeed unfold like a tragedy, with many a sign of the trouble he was in being ignored or not spotted until it was too late. But this is a celebration of a talent as much as an elegy, with the footage selected showcasing Best’s skills to dazzling effect. Best himself features in some of the many interviews he gave, and in one he says his greatest hope was that people will remember him for the football and forget the rest. Gordon’s film is the best chance of making good on that.