'Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame': Film Review
A revered maker of hand-crafted bicycles goes for a late-in-life world record.
A 75 year-old craftsman decides to return to speed-cycling in Tony Girardin's Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame, which follows Montreal's famous bicycle-maker Giuseppe Marinoni through a two-month campaign to get back in shape for racing. The determined, gently cantankerous oldster's personality is the main attraction here, in a doc that takes viewers' interest for granted; casual cycling fans will be less engaged than those who swear by their Marinoni frames, and non-cyclists should steer clear.
The debut film from one man band Tony Girardin (who did everything but write the film's music), Fire is predictably humble in production values, but not distractingly so. Except, that is, when Girardin makes the classic newbie-docmaker mistake and puts himself in the film. Providing his own unpolished narration, he feels the need to tell us he chose to make the film because he used to collect road bikes; yes, but why should we care about the man?
Though he interviews many customers and athletes who treasure their hand-made Marinonis, at no point does Girardin attempt to explain what makes them special. Are they exceptionally durable? Do their lines slice through the air better than other bikes? Do the multiple "Marinoni" logos on the frame distract from the goofy Spandex suit you're wearing? The best we get are vague assertions about "passion."
The film explains how its Italian subject emigrated to Canada as a young man, cycling professionally for years before retiring, trying several regular trades (he had trained as a tailor), and then settled on making bikes. We spend plenty of time in his workshop, watching him weld and listening to him complain about how anxious the camera makes him.
The pic's ticking-clock countdown to Marinoni's attempt to set a new distance record for an hour-long ride lacks drama, though some viewers will be inspired. What works better is the story of his decades-old connection with racer Jocelyn Lovell, a Canadian who rode a Marinoni frame to Olympic glory but was then paralyzed by a collision with a gravel truck. In this case at least, we don't need to understand how the craftsman enabled the athlete's accomplishments — it's enough that the latter believes it.
Production company: Tekno Hut
Distributor: First Run Features
Director-Director of photography-Editor-Producer: Tony Girardin
Composer: Alexander Hackett
In Italian, French, and English