Why you have to watch Vilas: you will be what you...

The documentary about Guillermo Vilas arrived on Netflix Credit: Netflix

Vilas: you will be what you should be or you will be nothing (2020, Argentina, spoken in Spanish and English). Direction: Matías Gueilburt. Script: Nicolás Gueilburt, Matías Gueilburt, Gianfranco Quattrini. Photography: Ignacio López Escrivá, Matías Gueilburt. Edition: Mariano Arellano. Investigation: Eduardo Puppo. Music: Vandera, Audionetwork. With: Guillermo Vilas, Eduardo Puppo, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Mats Wilander, Boris Becker, Rod Laver, Björn Borg, Gabriela Sabatini, Ion Tiriac, Richard Evans, Christopher Clarey, Peter Bodo. Duration: 94 minutes. Available in Netflix. Our opinion: very good.

This documentary focuses on the figure of Guillermo Vilas and in the long struggle of Vilas and the journalist Eduardo Puppo – helped by his wife and a European mathematician – so that his number one in the ranking, clearly achieved in his great moments in the seventies and never recognized by the ATP, is awarded retrospectively the greatest Argentine tennis player in history. This two-issue-in-one format, which on many occasions generates stories and portraits pulled by divergent forces, here not only does not weaken the proposal but also the power. It is most likely due to the structural and meaningful work of multiple narrative by a montage far from television automatisms and to a script signed by the director Matías Gueilburt, the also filmmaker and producer Gianfranco Quattrini and Nicolás Gueilburt (co-writer of one of the key Argentine films of the 21st century, The paranoid by Gabriel Medina).

Vilas’s words, especially those recovered -on cassettes and on annoters- from his moments of activity as a player, reconstruct and expand the already known figure: the reflective tennis player, fascinated by some artistic and philosophical encounters; the tireless tennis player, perfectionist, proud and aware of his virtues and obsessed with remedying his defects. For his part, Puppo’s obsession with getting a satisfactory response from ATP acts as the vector of the narrative in progress. But that statistical, journalistic, historical and even legal struggle may very well be officiating McGuffin Hitchcockian -that is, as a distractor on the surface to build a network in depth- to reveal another story: that of a close friendship between a gentleman of sport and a gentleman of journalism. And for this very reason, and for the chivalry of the film in general, it is a real shame that it has been decided to leave a fragment in which the player – today with health even more affected than at that time – is not aware of the camera record. That is the only baseness of a film with an arsenal of towering elements to more than compensate for that slip: interviews with the greatest tennis players, anecdotes and atmosphere of the seventies, Ion Tiriac as always in a state of grace, and archives of the past of Vilas with early statements, moving memories with his father and, of course, unforgettable points in games that were played in worlds and cities from another century, from another world, one in which pleasures and responsibility – and even stoicism – could coexist. harmonically.

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