MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Sitting in a cinema surrounded by Harley-Davidson jackets made me consider whether I was a little out of my depth for TT3D: Closer to the Edge. Leather boots and helmets felt like an entry pass to the cinema and I couldn’t help but wonder whether this might be a niche film that non-bikers won’t fully appreciate. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.
When I first saw the trailer for TT3D I had to ask my friend whether he thought it was a genuine documentary. But everything here is absolutely real and that’s what’s so terrifying. The film closely follows Guy Martin, a larger than life character with a light-hearted sense of humour in his preparation and participation in the notorious Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, a series of prestigious and perilous motorcycle road races. Martin’s endearing character and charm really helps this film feel like more than just a documentary. In its 100-year history, the TT has claimed a terrifying 233 deaths. Even as someone who knows nothing about the history of the races or the technical aspects of the bikes (which can go as fast as 200 mph), the astounding number of deaths and serious injuries of riders presents the perplexing question: just why would people put themselves and their families through such terror?
The answer to this question is quite straightforward. The thrills are only there to be experienced; these are people wired to live life to the full and nothing else can come close to this experience. Living life to the full is one thing, but to the extent that you risk leaving your family without a parent or partner? One rider’s widow and mother of their two children remained in complete sympathy with her husband’s lifestyle even after losing him to a race. This film isn’t only about a rider’s psyche, but more about the extent to which freedom of choice can be reconciled with recklessness. TT3D may not have the same artistic beauty of 2008’s portrait of fearless, tightrope walker Philippe Petit in Man On Wire, but the theme of an overwhelming desire to experience something magnificent over a normal person’s idea of rationality is constant and startling. Whether to be angry or admirable of an individual’s recklessness is certainly up to the viewer to decide.
TT3D goes beyond the adrenaline fuelled, petrol-head showpiece I initially expected. The documentary’s narrative is dramatic within itself and while motorsport enthusiasts and the Isle of Man tourist board will certainly love it, there’s plenty to make even the most pedestrian viewer smile, horrify and disbelieve.
TT3D: Closer to the Edge is released on 22 April in the UK.
Review by David Rank