Home Tennis ‘Federer: Twelve Final Days’ Review: Roger, Over and Out

‘Federer: Twelve Final Days’ Review: Roger, Over and Out

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Roger Federer retired from tennis at 41 having achieved everything there was to conquer: 20 Grand Slam titles and a reputation so sterling that his home country of Switzerland minted his face on a coin. (He was even once voted the second most admired person in the world after Nelson Mandela.) “Federer: Twelve Final Days,” a polite documentary by Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia, follows the living legend throughout September 2022, from his goodbye announcement to his last professional match. The camera stays at a respectful distance as Federer exits private planes and cars and navigates news conferences where, as every sports fan knows, candid feelings are as rare as talent like his.

Federer’s gravity-flouting litheness has always made a striking contrast against his grounded disposition. In his farewell match, playing doubles alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal, his expressed hope is simply to “to produce something that’s good enough.” Federer describes himself as an emotional guy, but with the international press and his management team nearly always on the sidelines, there’s little privacy to get personal. One of the more vulnerable moments the film manages to capture comes when Federer wears the wrong dress shirt to a photo call.

To deliver sentiment, the film instead relies on a score that sniffles as though a racehorse is being taken out to get shot. Yet, athletes do witness their own wakes. Flickers of spliced-in footage from Federer’s youth eulogize the grace that will forever outshine his four brutal knee surgeries. When he flubs a shot at his last match, the spectators look funereal — and the colleagues in attendance, from Björn Borg to Novak Djokovic, appear to recognize that this tragedy, this mass bereavement for an aging superhuman, has happened to them. Or it will.

Federer: Twelve Final Days
Rated R for language. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Watch on Prime Video.

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