Ronaldo (2015): Competent. Inauthentic. Fascinating.

Having watched de la Iglesia’s Messi documentary, I thought of going all in and looking at Ronaldo’s as well. And although this one tries so hard that it frequently seems inauthentic, at least it provides direct feedback from the horse’s mouth: there are no doubts about what Ronaldo feels and believes – but only concerning carefully selected themes that build up his persona.


The film follows the Real Madrid star for parts of the 2014 season, in between his two Ballon d’Or wins. Given that it was one of the most successful years any player has ever had in club football, the timing is just right for Ronaldo. We get a glimpse into his past, his circle of friends, his family, the relationship with his son, the ambitions driving his career. It is a competent, well structured documentary, even if it fails to inspire. That’s already more than can be said about the Messi docu – both released in a (suspiciously) narrow time frame between each other.

Ronaldo’s directorial control over the final output here feels heavy handed. His story, like most rags to riches stories, lends itself to dramatization, but without a wide-angled perspective from a neutral third party, much of this comes across as a vain attempt of self- aggrandizement. The absolute low is probably the World Cup episode, where claims like “I’d feel better if we had three Cristiano Ronaldo’s” surface, all the while justifying the team’s failure with Ronaldo’s injury. The good thing is that the more you want to control something, the less you actually manage to control it, because the orchestration required to do so renders you myopic to the meaning of what you are putting out there. It takes a very talented filmmaker to run such a tight ship in an artistic fashion.

What I do appreciate is the no-crap attitude towards how important his goals are for him. Sure, one can always judge it and dislike such a cynical approach towards achieving something for one’s own sake, but you can’t ignore the success story and the reality that magnanimity isn’t objective. A 360 approach to the professionals around Ronaldo would have made for an interesting case study in an ideal world, but the odds of acquiring something authentic would be very low at the curated pinnacle of the football world.

This is the paradox: while the movie feels directed, the amount of direction is a means of characterization. And this will always trump reconstructions and a lot of the time it will be superior to third party fables about the man. The superstar cult lives and breathes here. So for all it’s worth, Ronaldo’s docu tells a story about him. Also, we actually see original Messi footage in it, something “his” own documentary fails to include.

Originally published on imdb. 

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