"it does succeed in capturing a unique and memorable moment for a player that has experienced it all"

There are those individuals who require no introduction. Ryan Giggs is the most decorated footballer in the history of the English game. He holds the record for the most competitive appearances for Manchester United, winning thirteen Premier League titles, four FA cups, three League cups and has won the illustrious Champions League twice. In a career that has spanned 24 years his record is unique having won all the game has to offer.  

Documentary Life of Ryan released on DVD and Blu-Ray this month captures the final part of the 2013/2014 Premier League season, Giggs’ final season as a player. Part documentary, part video diary we are treated to a rare glimpse into the private life of Ryan Giggs during his transition from player to coach, which due to the clubs poor performance saw Giggs replace David Moyes as manager for the seasons remaining 4 games.

Life of Ryan was produced by Fulwell 73 Productions who were also behind 2013’s documentary The Class of ‘92. There are many similarities between the two documentaries, both of which cover a generation of players that grew up together and went on to win the biggest trophies during their careers. But whereas The Class of ‘92 shows their development, Life of Ryan: Caretaker Manager shows their return to the club which gave them their opportunity. There’s a sense of a sequel throughout, seeing the players reunited to repair a damaging season for United. 

Director Daniel Mendelle uses interviews, video diaries and a fly-on-the-wall approach to capture the concluding part of Giggs’ career. There’s input from Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham, Diego Maradona, former teammates and other sporting personalities including Rory Mcllroy, who offer an insightful celebration of Giggs’ career and analyse the qualities and strengths of his character that benefited his management style. Mendelle has captured a vision of the legend who’s emotionally open and honest, and full of excitement at the prospect of stepping into manage the team that made his name. Giggs holds the screen well, he’s humorous, humble and passionate, and the trust he shows in the filmmakers is key with the film never feeling like it outstays its welcome.

Cinematographer Jon Pearlman captures Old Trafford in a light which adds to the mythical element of Ryan Giggs and his career. There’s a soft glow throughout, which alongside the acoustic (at times slightly melodramatic) soundtrack and celebratory tone will thrill fans of Manchester United. It is here where the film encounters its problems. The Class of ‘92 was a film which could be enjoyed by both Manchester United supporters and non-supporters alike. The narrative felt home grown, a kind of David vs Goliath with the kids playing on the streets growing up to be the best in the world.

If Life of Ryan will only please supporters of Manchester United it will be due to the lack of narrative. The film covers the final 4 games of the season all of which had no real significance. United knew their fate was to end the season mid-table and this comes across on screen. For United fans it was great to see a legend taking over in a moment that represented a new start, whilst non-United fans may struggle to find something to connect with.

Life of Ryan works well as a companion piece to The Class of ’92. As a standalone film it feels slightly disjointed and unsure as to what it wants to be. It works best as an insight into the character of Ryan Giggs and his career. It’s slightly let down by its narrative but it does succeed in capturing a unique and memorable moment for a player that has experienced it all.