Reviewed by GREG KING
Directors: Dan Jones, Marcus Cobbledick.
“All for one” was the rallying cry of the three musketeers, but it also seems to encapsulate the camaraderie and spirit of the GreenEDGE cycling team, Australia’s first professional cycling team to compete in the prestigious Tour De France.
The team was established in 2010 by millionaire businessman Gerry Ryan, the founder of Jayco Caravans, who has poured much of his own money into building the team. He established a team comprising 30 riders, plenty of support staff, doctors and drivers. But he built the team around personalities rather than proven results, and they became known for their sense of fun on the tour circuit. This documentary follows the team over the first five years of their existence, and looks at some of the challenges they faced in tackling the European circuit.
Ryan invited filmmaker Dan Jones to shoot some short videos of the team. His Backstage Pass series of short videos for You Tube were uploaded during the races and became an instant hit, focussing plenty of attention on the team and their antics. Jones thought that there was enough of a story in the establishment of the team to make a feature length documentary. He spent several years following the team through Europe as they competed in the gruelling Tour De France, the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Spain.
Given an unprecedented level of access to the team, he shot some 4000 hours of footage, incorporating interviews with team members, cycling commentators and journalists, and lots of exciting race footage to give us some insight into this world of competitive professional cycling. He shows the determination of the riders, the hard work and training behind the scenes, but he also captures plenty of scenes that illustrate the rapport between the team members. We get plenty of examples of the typical larrikin humour. But it also seems like an extended infomercial for the GreenEDGE brand at times. There is little that is controversial here, although we are treated to a lighter moment when the team’s bus gets stuck under the finish sign, earning the ire of both officials and spectators.
The film mainly follows four characters – Melburnian racer Simon Gerrans, New South Welshman Matthew Hayman, Columbian born cyclist Esteban Chaves, and the team’s sports director Neil Stephens. The personal story of Chaves is the most interesting and inspiring however. The young Columbian was involved in a terrible accident that left him with broken bones and it nearly ended his cycling career. But working with the Australian team restored his passion for the sport and gave him confidence to ride again, and basically gave him his life back, according to his grateful and tearful parents.
Jones and co-director Marcus Cobbledick (a former animator, visual effects creator and cinematographer) spent some 18 months with editor Peter Pilley (who hails from a background in television, having worked on series like Wentworth, Seven Types Of Ambiguity, etc) to shape the material into the film we see here. The film unfolds in largely chronological order making it easy to follow. There are also plenty of spectacular crashes, and some of the high-speed spills are particularly sickening.
All For One is a wonderful underdog story and it portrays the sport in a positive light. All For One is not the greatest sports documentary ever made, nor is it one of the better cycling documentaries – especially since we’ve had Le Tour earlier this year and Alex Gibney’s revealing look at Lance Armstrong and the drug scandal that rocked the sport to its foundations and tarnished its reputation. This lightweight, feel good documentary won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the recent Melbourne International Film Festival, but it will appeal more to cycling enthusiasts than the more casual filmgoer.