Genre: Documentary, Sports
Country: United States
Starring: Cadel Evans
Directors: Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, Steve Decraene
Run time: 52 minutes
DVD distributor: First Run Features
Watching Yell For Cadel, out March 23rd from First Run Features, is kind of like reading someone’s diary. Sometimes there’s an interesting passage that you might want to read again. But mostly it’s something you skim, because people write stuff in their diaries with no context, and so it’s often difficult to understand why you would care about your sister’s hair appointment. Or whoever’s diary you stole.
What I mean by this is that very often the documentary leaps to the next scene without providing any context, and suddenly Cadel Evans is holding a puppy, and you don’t know where the puppy came from or why it’s on the screen, and you want to skim ahead to see more cycling. The movie is a backstage look at the Tour De France from the point of view of Cadel Evans, an Australian cyclist who was one of the favourites going into the Tour De France this year.
The movie follows him from stage to stage as he competes in the race. They have gone to great lengths on the DVD case and throughout the movie to make the end of the Tour a surprise. Does he win? Doesn’t he? I won’t divulge the final result here, because they have obviously tried very hard to maintain the drama in the documentary. But maybe you follow cycling and already know. Or maybe you have google and want to find out easily. Or maybe you don’t care. I’ll leave it up to you.
I had a hard time with Yell For Cadel because I didn’t really feel his passion or his pain or any of those things that you get at the Tour De France. I saw him being charming, which was nice, and I saw him biking (a little bit) which was okay. And I saw his trainers and crew joking around and having a good time, although I was often lost without the context. But there is little flow in the film, and it’s edited poorly.
As it turns out, however, it’s the poor editing and sloppy attention to detail that give this movie its best moments. Mostly, it’s the subtitles. Although Evans himself speaks English, of course, being Australian, many of the people around him speak other languages, and they need subtitles. So when Evans is holding the puppy, he’s talking a different language to the people around him. And apparently, in that language (I believe Belgian), he said “oh no, the dog pied on me!”
There are countless moments like this – bad grammar and words substituted for similar ones that would have made far more sense. It made me laugh though, because it made me wonder. Is Evans’ Belgian that bad that he actually did say “pied” in Belgian? It would be decidedly clever if they translated the phrase that way. Or did the people who wrote the subtitles just not pay any attention? Or was their English this bad?
I don’t know. Either way, it made the movie worth watching. I couldn’t get into the story of Cadel Evans, because I felt that unless I was one of his road crew, and I was watching the movie to reminisce about our time at the Tour De France, there was little there for me. But I did look forward to the next set of subtitles. Those, and the scene-splitting text that appears on the screen to set up each following stage are priceless also.