‘Ronaldo’ film a vanity project

November 17, 2015 — by Fiona Sequeira

Reporter found Cristiano Ronaldo's, the captain of the Portuguese national team movie to be, at times, a suffocating vanity project,

It is no state secret that I’m a rabid fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, the 30-year-old star forward for Spanish soccer club Real Madrid, the captain of the Portuguese national team and the world’s best footballer (sorry, Messi). So when he released his biographical documentary, aptly titled “Ronaldo,” I rushed to catch my hero in action, assured the movie would be as stellar as the player himself.

But alas, I was wrong. Even as a die-hard Ronaldo fan, I found his movie to be, at times, a suffocating vanity project, and by the end, I found myself asking the troubling question: Why does this documentary even exist?

Through a series of interviews, “Ronaldo” documents his journey from his childhood to his breakthrough success at Manchester United to his current station at Real Madrid and his immense global fame. Parts of the film also follow Ronaldo's day-to-day life with his family and friends, including his son Cristiano Jr., his mother, his brother Hugo and his two sisters, Elma and Cátia Lilian.

While the documentary grants unprecedented access into Ronaldo’s life, it lacks any broader context into a story of shape and dynamism. The film features no input from outside of Ronaldo’s circle — no players or managers from Manchester United or Real Madrid to add a different angle or perspective, and as such, the story often falls flat.

In fact, the arc of the story, told over 90 minutes, is overly simplistic, and its overriding thesis threatens to fall into the damning category of cliché: Ronaldo was born into unfortunate circumstances in Madeira, Portugal, he worked hard, he believed in himself and thus he became the best soccer player in the world, revered by millions.

The film is, however, strategically laced with endearing moments, and the intimate details about his family help humanize Ronaldo’s rampant egoism. For example, Ronaldo’s father returned from the Portuguese colonial war in Angola a raging, out-of-touch alcoholic who passed away when Ronaldo was just 19. Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is in effect a father figure for Ronaldo, and the film effectively explores their close relationship.

The highlight of the film is the adorable Cristiano Jr., whose mother is not publically known. In one scene, he tells Ronaldo, a proud forward, “I’m going to be a goalkeeper, OK Dad?” to which Ronaldo humorously replies, “A goalkeeper, are you joking me?”

Although “Ronaldo” fails as a sports film, it’s a fascinating character study into the mindset of a true champion, displaying the fine line that Ronaldo walks between confidence and cockiness. And while his self-obsessiveness throughout the film may be cloying at times, I can’t help but admire Ronaldo and his competitive greatness, his insane confidence and his absolute refusal to be overtaken.

By believing he is the best, by working at all times to be the best and accepting nothing less, Ronaldo has indeed become the best, a perpetual motivation machine whose self-assuredness at his level is not delusion but necessity. In professional sports, it’s hard to get to the top, but it’s even harder to stay there, as Ronaldo has, and the film gives viewers valuable insight into his key qualities of incredible intensity, dedication and drive, qualities that one can aspire to at any level.

Say what you will about Ronaldo — he has lovers, he has haters. But for now, this film has only reaffirmed my conviction that Cristiano Ronaldo, while admittedly self-centered, is, undoubtedly, the best at what he does.

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