I Am Ali

"Very Good"

I Am Ali Review


Packed with never-released material, this documentary tells the life story of Muhammad Ali from angles we haven't seen before, even as it has a tendency to drift into hero worship. But filmmaker Clare Lewins assembles the material with style and personality, mixing home movies and previously unheard recordings with firsthand interviews with the people who know Ali best. Oddly, many of them speak in the past tense, which makes the film feel like a eulogy for a man who's still alive.

Watch any clip of Ali and it's clear that this man is a force of nature. In his heyday, his charisma was legendary, infusing new life into the boxing world when he emerged as Cassius Clay and was banned from boxing for refusing to participate in the Viet Nam draft. A lifelong activist, Ali has never compromised his principles, being true to himself while sticking up for those around him. He also broke rules by talking directly to the world through the media's cameras, chanting at and dancing around his competitors. But the film's most intriguing aspect is its depiction of him as a doting father who has always had time for his kids. At 72, he lives in Arizona with his wife, and is seriously ill with Parkinson's.

Everyone on-screen has been caught up in Ali's magic, with one noting that looking into his eyes is like seeing God. These kind of comments are a bit too intent on creating a legend while skipping over some of the grittier details of his life. Yes, Lewins seems to get caught up in the mythology as well. The film only briefly touches on his four marriages and children from extra-marital affairs, but it does spend some time exploring his more shocking public comments. Although even these are recalled through the prism of time, offering explanations and even redemption.

Yes, there's a danger that a film like this is trying to create a saint. But this doesn't lessen the impact of the material, which is skilfully used to tell Ali's story in his own words accompanied by accounts from those closest to him. Their anecdotes are strikingly detailed and personal, and audio recordings of Ali interacting with his children are priceless. So even if the film goes overboard to paint him as some sort of superhuman, it's not that far off the mark. And while we know that he was as flawed as anyone, his achievements are still so astounding that it's impossible not to be inspired.



I Am Ali

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th November 2014

Production compaines: Focus Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Clare Lewins

Producer: Clare Lewins, George Chignell, Greg Hobden

Starring: as Himself, Muhammad Ali Jr. as Himself, Hana Ali as Herself, Maryum Ali as Herself, Rahaman Ali as Himself, as Himself, Carl Fischer as Himself, as Himself, Marvis Frazier as Himself, Ken Jones as Himself, as Himself, Gene Kilroy as Himself, George Lois as Himself, Verónica Porche Ali as Herself, Norman Towns as Young Ali, as Himself, George Lois as Himself, as Himself

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