No Easy Mile the new Mo Farah documentary, released December 5th, tells one of the most amazing stories in sport. However without connecting on a personal level the film lacks a real bite.
Article originally published on The National Student
33-year-old Farah was born in Somalia, before his family moved to neighbouring Djibouti as Somalia slid into civil war. Later Mo and his mother moved to London to join his father, who had been born and raised in England’s capital. His twin brother stayed behind and the separation of the inseparable pair was hard on them both. No Easy Mile examines this early on, and the exploration of the brothers’ 12-year separation is one of the most touching and human moments the film exhibits.
The earlier phases of the film offer a more personal glimpse into Mo’s life. His attachment to his brother is apparent and seeing him in his adopted homeland of Djibouti, rather than simply in a British frame (as fans are perhaps overly used to), is refreshing. As is the intimate window into his relationship with his wife Tania as the two dive into and enjoy retelling their story of being school sweethearts.
No Easy Mile feels genuinely personal during these sequences and that’s the ideal in a documentary like this. Given that in the case of a high profile sporting star like Farah, people know the story of his competitive success, what a viewer wants is a more personal understanding of a sporting hero.
Unfortunately the personal element is not consistent. The latter stages of the film slip into an overly narrative re-telling of Farah’s racing successes. That side of the story is crucially important and has to be told – granted. However the film’s climax offers little else than a sycophantic action replay. Mo Farah is without doubt an amazing athlete and one of the most accomplished long distance runners of all time, but making a documentary film like this is a chance to add value to that story by introducing fans to the man behind the medals. No Easy Mile is a great watch but it seems to offer very little in the way of new information after the first half hour, and for Farah fans the film is over reliant on a story they’re all too familiar with.
It’s that lack of new information that holds the film back. It feels a little bit recycled. Also the film shows a potential to scratch away the surface in those early personal sequences, but that potential isn’t fully delivered on and the documentary isn’t wholly satisfying as a result.
Ironically No Easy Mile could well have benefited from a longer run time.
Some of the interviews with the man himself are fantastic and it’s great to hear from wife Tania, his brothers and family and from sporting stars like Sebastian Coe. However occasional quotes from Thierry Henry, as great a sports person as he is, seem out of place, irrelevant and arguably a little lazy.
With a longer run-time the documentary maybe could have dug a little deeper and explored the real Mo; what we have though in No Easy Mile is a light-hearted skip through Farah’s career. It’s an enjoyable re-telling that will inspire those unfamiliar with the Farah story but maybe leave fans feeling a little underwhelmed.
Ironically No Easy Mile could well have benefited from a longer run time; coming in it around 75 minutes limits how much can really be told. Had a personal element been sustained and further explored the documentary certainly could have achieved more.
Mo Farah: No Easy Mile is out in the UK on 5th December.
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