Canadian filmmaker Tony Girardin took three years to convince grouchy 75-year-old bike maker Giuseppe Marinoni to agree to be the focus of a documentary. But the result, "Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame" — covering Marinoni's attempt to break a world record for his age group on a bike he built in the 1970s — is a slapdash tribute too humdrum to ever whip up a truly inspirational froth.
Girardin is the fondly teasing interlocutor off camera, invading the master craftsman's Montreal workspace and home as he wields the welder, barks about declining standards, and worries about jumping back into competitive cycling after a 40-year break. (Decades of exposure to toxic fumes from frame-building have taken their toll.)
Interviews with cyclists and enthusiasts give testimony to Marinoni's status in the sport, but a movie needs more than a lot of talk about "passion" and a trip to the mountainous northern Italy of Marinoni's upbringing to separate itself from scores of other documentaries about defying one's age and making one last stab at greatness.
We don't even get a sense of what separates this legend's classic bicycle frames from everyone else's. Thankfully Marinoni himself is an engaging figure, whether reminiscing about his racing days, or picking wild mushrooms, which seems to give him the most pleasure. Mostly, though, "Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame" feels like a documentary short stretched thin.