Let’s find out together, in this dedicated review, what is our opinion on the Netflix docuseries directed by Massimo Cappello The Alex Schwazer Case: from the apex to the bowels of hell, how low must a man fall to get his life back?
ORIGINAL TITLE: The Alex Schwazer Case. TYPE: Documentary. NATION: Italia. REGIA: Marco Cappello. CAST: Alex Schwazer. DURATION: 4 episodes of about 45 minutes. DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix. STREAM OUT: 13/04/2023.
I hope young people follow me in the sense of not doing what I did. It’s not worth putting everything on the line for a triumph. Life is made up of many things, family, friends: playing everything like I did makes no sense. In Beijing I won because I was serene and that’s the key to everything.
Can a man, belonging to a category that works, acts and lives at very high levels, make mistakes? Although the answer to this question is, from a merely empathetic point of view, simple and direct (we challenge anyone to answer with a resounding no), the nuances to be applied in certain areas are multiple and multifaceted. So let’s rephrase the question: can an Olympic walker, admired and acclaimed throughout the globe, with a glittering career ahead, an equally famous girlfriend next to him and a dream life be forgiven after using doping and being discovered? Legally speaking, the answer is simple: in Italy doping is a criminal offence, so no. Humanly speaking? Depends. Welcome to our review of The Alex Schwazer Case.
Anthological | Review The Alex Schwazer Case
What are we talking about? The Alex Schwazer Case is a docuseries released in mid-April consisting of four episodes produced by Netflix which, with an investigative and interview cut, retrace the facts relating to the judicial and human story of the Olympic champion who gives the series its name. Behind the camera we find Massimo Cappello, director who has already directed other documentaries (Silencio and Il Sindaco – Italian Politics 4 Dummies), all related to current and rather controversial topics. In this case we move towards doping in sport at high levels.
Alex Schwazer was born in Vipiteno, a small Italian town in the province of Bolzano perhaps closest to Switzerland, in terms of life, in 1984. Alex Schwazer was a boy (by now tragically and inevitably become a man) terribly gifted for walking, so so much that win gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A title which, also thanks to his engagement at the time with the equally champion Carolina Kostner, inevitably brought him under the spotlight of the press. Everyone is looking for Scwhazer and Kostner: photo shoots, television appearances, photographers, onlookers and so on and so forth.
Stranger in his own world | Review The Alex Schwazer Case
A world that was too narrow for Alex and that forced him to abandon training for a while. His glitz and luxury didn’t suit him so much that he felt out of place, wrong and dramatically alone, so as to lead him into a downward spiral between depression and self-pity. Alex goes back to training, yes, but by his own admission he feels “empty”. This inadequacy also impacts his performances, obviously, first making him withdraw from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin due to an alleged stomach ache, but also downgrading other subsequent competitions, such as the Taegu World Championships in which he ranks ninth.
On the eve of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Alex tests positive for erythropoietin. The outbreak of the media case is obviously sensational and in addition to the criminal proceedings against him, CONI suspends him on the recommendation of the National Anti-Doping Tribunal, which then disqualifies him from competitions for more than three years. In this period, Alex, in search of redemption, approaches Sandro Donati, who will become his coach and mentor for years to come.
Doped twice? | Review The Alex Schwazer Case
However, the documentary focuses more on the second disqualification for doping to which Alex was subjected, the one whose facts date back to 2016. An absurd positivity because it is false: this is what Alex Schwazer, Sandro Donati and the large team of lawyers claim representing the young man. Therefore, if the athlete has not taken synthetic testosterone, as he claims, how is it possible that the substance is present in the urine sample? The tubes must have been manipulated.
The second judicial case that sees him as the protagonist lasts, for Alex and his family, several years, to be precise until 2021. Years made of “twists” in court, in which evidence and counter-evidence were brought, facts refuted and included in the process more and more agencies and third parties. In short: a really complex judicial tusslebut which the Netflix documentary manages to summarize clearly and with a crystalline chronology.
Investigate | Review The Alex Schwazer Case
Clear and concise, in short, this is the greatest value of a production like Il Caso Alex Schwazer. The investigative and almost interview cut, in addition, skilfully mixes clips of footage shot at the time of the events with real close-ups of the protagonists of the storyprimarily Schwazer himself, but also his mother, his current wife, Sandro Donati himself, the defense lawyers and all those who have taken the athlete’s side over time, despite the initial doubts.
Do you notice anything strange? The screen-time granted to the athlete’s supporters is practically absolute, a series of rebuttals that go in one direction: to restore the athlete’s name. And although humanly speaking it can only please us and, from a certain point of view, even move us, if we take it from the more objective and impartial point of view, we notice a certain asynchrony and an equally certain lack of contradiction. While it is true that many of Alex’s protesters, contacted by Cappello, refused or did not respond at all to the interview proposal, even the time alone given to the representatives of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and the International Athletics Federation is ridiculously lower than all the others.
Cold | Review The Alex Schwazer Case
A point that loses that journalistic attitude that the director has instead sought throughout the docuseries, especially by exploiting his main weapon: the camera. Leaving aside the aforementioned footage from the time of the events, the rest of the series takes place with an interlocutor sitting in a room and the camera filming him, capturing the micro-expressions of the face, the movements of the hands and, above all, the posture. Everything is done with almost maniacal precision, from an operating room, and to a certain extent with a disproportionate coldness.
It is a pity therefore that we have not been able to reach more personalities capable of giving a completely different point of view on the story, a contradictory that is felt, right from the start, to be lacking and lacking. Too bad not so much because we were looking for elements of accusation against the man Schwazer, but it would certainly have been more interesting to be able to contrast the two sides of the coin: the single man against the sick mechanism that governs top-level sport.
Lack of contradiction?
Here we conclude this review of The Alex Schwazer case, a Netflix docuseries that presents an underlying seriousness that seems to want to be aimed at restoring the athlete’s name, rather than narrating the facts in a precise and punctual way. And we repeat: from a purely human point of view, Alex Schwazer also deserves this rehabilitation. The supervisors have already taken care of the facts and the legal battles. What we would have liked, from a self-respecting docuseries, would have been greater impartiality and a superpartes cynicism, able to narrate the judicial story involving Schwazer separating it from its being a man who knew how to be reborn and come back to life.
The Alex Schwazer Case is currently available in the Netflix TV series catalog. Let us know what you think below in the comments and stay tuned with us at TechGameWorld.com for all the news on the subject of cinema and TV series!
- Crystal clear chronology of events
- Precise and punctual cut
- Lack of contradiction
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