TT3D: Closer To The Edge* Review

TT3D: Closer To The Edge film still


The colourful characters and human drama keep things interesting and engaging from start to finish.

Every summer the tranquillity of the Isle of Man is shattered by roaring engines and screeching tyres when the world’s greatest superbike riders congregate to compete in the infamous Tourist Trophy road race. Following a handful of competitors in their preparations for the race, Richard de Aragues’ documentary is an often exhilarating portrait of one of motorsport’s most thrilling spectacles.

The chief focus of the film, and its undoubted star, is Guy Martin, a 28-year-old road racer with Wolverine sideburns and a bowlegged John Wayne gait resulting from countless hours spent in the saddle of powerful motorcycles. An outsider in a sport of outsiders, Martin is something of a fan favourite despite never actually winning a TT race. His personality quirks and candour make him a fascinating subject and his easy charisma helps carry the film through its slower moments.

Elsewhere, de Aragues does an admirable job of filming the races themselves contrasting visceral bike-mounted footage with elegant helicopter shots to provide a neat metaphor for the double edge of brutality and beauty that runs through the event. The 3D effect adds relatively little to these sequences, which is a shame as road racing seems to lend itself to the technology particularly well.

While there is certainly no shortage of thrills and spills, the film is more contemplative than its kinetic title might suggest. A great deal of time is spent exploring the riders’ attitude towards life and death in a manner that recalls Werner Herzog’s existential investigation of a Swiss ski jumper The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner.

Martin talks candidly about having four ‘game over’ crashes in which he was convinced he was going to die, and later states he has no desire to start a family as this would give him another reason to live and thus prevent him from throwing himself fully into racing.

Several others express similar sentiments and with the TT claiming the lives of 231 riders since its inception in 1907 it’s clear they aren’t exaggerating. This is all backed up with footage of some truly horrific accidents both past and present, riders sail across the road 10 feet in the air, bikes collide with stone walls and burst into flames, but year after year they keep going back.

In its most effective moments Closer to the Edge finds an almost spiritual dimension in the competitors’ courage, dedication and reverence and provides a fascinating look not only into a sport but into the psyches of those who are prepared to lay down their lives for it.

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