If it wasn’t for Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo would be considered the finest football of all time, as the triple Ballon D’Or winner continues to break records and score a breathtaking amount of goals for Spanish giants Real Madrid. In this documentary, we follow the man around for 14 months, gaining unprecedented access to the Portuguese international, studying his exploits on the pitch, and the more intimate aspects off it, where he spends his time with his young son, who he raises alongside his own mother, Dolores.
Partly why this feature lacks engagement, is because footballers are generally rather boring in front of the camera. Not at fault of their own, but they’ve been media trained from a young, impressionable age, which explains why their post-match interviews are so tedious and cliched. This feature struggles to get behind the facade of the subject, as he puts on the persona we are only ever witness to – as the Ronaldo featured in this picture is the same Ronaldo we see accepting awards, or being interviewed after a game.
What also doesn’t help our emotional investment, is that Ronaldo is too aware of the cameras being on him, epitomised in when he wants to show off his collection of cars and so uses his son to do so, in a contrived game of “guess which of daddy’s cars isn’t in the garage”. The poor kid hasn’t got a clue, so a series of naming fancy brands ensues. The best moments in the picture tend not to feature the subject at all, with the intimate interviews with his mother and older brother Hugo. These scenes represent the more fascinating side to this endeavour, away from the match highlights we’ve all seen countless times before.
But the question remains; what is the point of this documentary, and what do we truly learn? That Ronaldo is a footballer who goes home after training and spends time with his son? There’s no palpable, specific angle. Ronaldo likes winning, and isn’t particularly fond of losing. He also loves his family. Great – but there should be an obligation to educate as much as entertain, and it’s simply not enlightening enough.
For the first few years in his career, Ronaldo was often called the ‘young Ronaldo’, or the ‘new Ronaldo’ or even just the ‘Portuguese Ronaldo’ – as he was in the shadow somewhat of his namesake, the exquisite Brazilian international. But since, it’s the latter who has taken on the alternative nicknames, having become renowned, unfairly, as ‘fat Ronaldo’, as it’s Cristiano who now garners far more attention and success. And yet it’s the Brazilian counterpart who would make for a far more intriguing piece of cinema. As the poker-playing, triangular haircutted legend has a story to tell. That’s the doc you really want to see. We’ve got the wrong Ronaldo.