The Last Kilometer is a documentary film featuring Davide Rebellin and Ignazio Moser, two riders with over 20 years of age in between them. It also features press room legend Gianni Mura, sometimes known as one of the few journalists to still use a typewriter but hopefully better known for his prose and knowledge.
The film opens with Mura giving his sweeping take on the sport, how it has lost its romantic aspect and lamenting the way riders are too cold-blooded. He cites Cadel Evans but praises him for the times he abandoned the security, for example his Mendrisio world championship ride.
We also meet the Mosers. The documentary follows Ignazio, the son of Francesco. Francesco was one of the best riders in the 70s and early 80s and more than the Cancellara of his day as he was able to win the Giro once and was an elegant rider on the bike. But the film shows another side as the first shot of Moser is the inelegant image of him in overalls working an earth mover to grub up some of his vines. The Moser thread in the documentary is essentially one of Ignazio trying to escape his father’s shadow. Only Ignazio’s middle name seems to be “son of Francesco” everywhere he goes.
Another character is Davide Rebellin and the tale of his highs and lows, from Olympic medals to doping scandals. It’s the ordinary life that stands out as he’s interviewed in his Monaco flat queues outside a sandwich shop or goes training behind his father’s car. We also meet Herr Dieter Senft, better known as Didi The Devil. Yes he’s mad but he’s also the hidden expression of fanaticism in all cycling fans who yearn to stand beside the roads, to cheer the riders with a passion but without blocking their path. I won’t spoil the scenes but never knew he was a former international racer.
The subtitles need subbing. It’s an Italian documentary and the subtitle track isn’t perfect, for example translating correre which means “to race” as “to run” so we have Ignazio Moser saying “I run tomorrow” only he’s not doing some cross-training. The same for a post-race scene where Moser’s DS (ex-pro Marco Milesi) is berating him for “not sprinting” in the subtitles but actually he means an attack. But I’ve told the producers about this and apparently it’s going to be changed.
An enjoyable hour especially as it shows sides of cycling you don’t see, the quotidian training and scenes from amateur racing as Moser tries to land a big win, whether at home or in the sun-baked U23 Paris-Roubaix. There are no wooden quotes and formulaic phrases here, all the characters are open and personal in front of the camera. Rebellin comes across as one of those characters so deep in cycling he can’t do anything else whilst Moser contemplates his options.
But it’s only an hour. The film only skims the surface, it ends just as soon as you’ve got a look at the characters. For example Mura gives his take on the sport but is out for the rest of the film. If anything I wondered about the idea of a small film crew following these characters all season long and producing a weekly documentary, a sort of reality soap opera that tracks the triumphs, challenges and stories of everyday life in the style of Booker Sim and Joseph Finkleman’s “Beyond the Peloton” series.