Being Evel Review NZIFF

As this cleverly worded title suggests Being Evel documents the life of superstar daredevil Robert ‘Evel’ Knievel, focusing on interviews with his former friends, lovers and to balance it out a couple of his enemies; though it seems even his friends were tipping towards the foe side of the scale at various points in his life.

Everyone knows the name Evel Knievel, even if you have no clue of who the man himself was, your brain still conjures the famous stars and stripes Elvis-esque outfits and the Harley Davidson motorbikes. If you know nothing more about him than the character he made himself then this documentary will keep you enthralled from beginning to end.

By using a highly effective typeface for the annotations and stunning parallax effects on the film photographs the director Daniel Junge has managed to piece together a flowing narrative that is both informative and entertaining; if you’re looking for something cheerful and relaxing for your Sunday night look elsewhere. Being Evel is at times a tense, stomach tightening ride full of jaw dropping leaps and intensely uncomfortable falls, it’ll leave you laughing and wiping away tears all in one 99 minute journey.

“If it looks too good to be true, it usually is.” This proverb speaks the truth of Evel Knievel’s rollercoaster life, at first you’re revving him up in your head and beginning to think of him as the hero many believed him to be. But at a certain point in the documentary it becomes clear that things are going to go drastically wrong; this is the moment the dread starts to seep into your hilarious outbursts of laughter at the quippy one-liners strewn throughout the first half hour and you begin to grimace at every new stunt just waiting for the inevitable to happen.

The only reason this documentary did not receive the full five stars was a mere lack of dates and a few too many moustached men. There was a stint during the film where you wouldn’t know where you were on the timeline of his life if it smacked you in the face and there were so many interviewees that were male, white and aging that you were lost on who was who in the jumble of people that knew Evel best. Character references lacking it was beautifully edited and told the audience everything you could possibly want to know, but not necessarily need to know; there were no painstakingly boring facts and plenty of inside looks into the man behind the helmet; the real Evel Knievel.

Reviewed by Lindsey Catherine

4 stars -