‘Who is this young matador of the links?’ cries commentator Peter Alliss at the start of this dire hybrid of drama and documentary as archive footage shows 19-year-old golfer Seve Ballesteros on the way to his first major international upset. Two painfully long and tedious hours later, we’re none the wiser. To hijack a slightly inappropriate sporting cliché, ‘Seve’ is a film of two halves. On the one hand it’s a flat, uninspiring doc plodding through Ballasteros’s career as a major golfing talent. On the other it’s a dewy-eyed drama depicting young Seve’s rise from son of a farmer to teen golf pro.
Neither element works. The golfing footage is free of context and offers no concessions to those unfamiliar with the sport’s dense jargon. While the flashback sequences are poorly scripted, boringly acted and take far too long to say very little. Worst of all, we get almost no sense of Ballasteros as a person, as he grows from an arrogant, indulged child into a bullish, single-minded man. Interview footage following his first brush with the brain tumour which eventually killed him offers us a glimpse of a different Seve: charming, self-effacing, quietly proud of his achievements. But by then it’s far too late.