Star – Ronaldo, of course…!
Genre – Sports Biopic
Run Time –132 minutes
Certificate – PG 13
Country – British
Amazon – £5.99 DVD (£8.99Blue Ray)
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I think it’s fair to say that Cristiano Ronaldo (born Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro) loves himself and if the producers of the rather excellent ‘Senna’ movie offer to make a vacuous film about him and Universal Pictures want to pick up the tab then why not? Ronaldo is the most followed celebrity in the world with 108 million likes on his Facebook page, 36 million on Instagram, and more than 38 million followers on Twitter, and that’s the sort of thing media corporations love, big enough numbers for Universal to syndicate this film around the world in 27 different languages. It’s definitely a film made for fans. This is not a revealing documentary.
Filmed over 14 months between January 2014 and March 2015, it offers to present ‘unprecedented access’ into the inner circle of the man and the sport, and the first official and fully authorized film of Ronaldo - but on his terms. The film blurb reminds us that ‘for the first time ever, the world gets vividly candid and un-paralleled, behind-closed-doors access to the footballer, father, family-man and friends in this moving & fascinating documentary, seen through in-depth conversations with those close - and loyal - family and friends’. Hummmm…
There is state of the art football footage and some brand new archival to enjoy, as you would expect, the film, as you would also expect, giving a bland and controlled insight into the sporting and personal life of the double Ballon d'or winner (2008 & 2013). Because we don’t get to see anything of how the big sports stars live, just a peep behind the curtain can be fascinating though. I recall the American owners of Liverpool football club sanctioned something similar on the club in 2013, and as basic and two dimensional the program makers were told to edit it, the film was surprisingly interesting and eye-opening. Who will ever forget the huge self portrait of Brendan Rogers staring down at Brendan Rogers in his front room. Yes, Ronaldo has lots of those to and his own statue in his hometown to go with to trump Rogers. In fact the secret of super stardom is knowing so little about them. If Ronaldo wins the World Cup he will have done it all in football and so certainly worth this documentary.
Cristiano Ronaldo ... Himself
Dolores Aveiro ... Mom
Hugo Aveiro ... Dad
Carla Mendes ... Herself
Jorge Mendes ... Ronaldo’s super agent
Lionel Messi ... Himself
David Morrissey ... Dramatic VO (voice)
Georgie Bingham ... English Sports Presenter 1 (voice)
Adrian Clarke ... English Sports Presenter 2 (voice)
Rio Ferdinand ... Himself
ClÁudia Garcia ... Herself
David Álvarez Izquierdo ... Spanish Sports Presenter 1 (voice)
Rhiannon Jones ... Spanish Sports Presenter 2 (voice)
Nelvino Lima ... Portuguese Sports Presenter (voice)
Miguel Lopes Marques ... Himself
Rafael Navarrete MartÍnez ... Himself
Miguel PaixÃo ... Himself
Florentino Pérez ... Himself
Ricardo Regufe ... Himself
José Semedo ... Himself
Mike Sewell ... English Sports Commentator 1 (voice
Career – 681 Appearances and 491 goals
United – 192 Appearances and 118 goals
Madrid – 355 Appearances and 355 League goals
Portugal – 135 Appearances and 66 goals.
Hatricks – 40
Most goals in a calendar year – 95
Scored 40 goals a domestic season 4 times.
• Premier League: 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09
• FA Cup: 2003–04
• Football League Cup: 2005–06, 2008–09
• FA Community Shield: 2007
• UEFA Champions League: 2007–08
• FIFA Club World Cup: 2008
• La Liga: 2011–12
• Copa del Rey: 2010–11, 2013–14
• Supercopa de España: 2012
• UEFA Champions League: 2013–14, 2015–16
• UEFA Super Cup: 2014
• FIFA Club World Cup: 2014
Captain Portugal to European Championships
We begin with Ronaldo playing in the ‘El Classico’ with his big rival Lionel Messi. and scoring amazing goals and lots of vain slow motion close ups to, uniquely shot on Imax cameras. The two are seen together later on in the film back stage for the Balloon De Or but that’s about all we see of his nemesis. He does not want to be upstaged by anyone. This is the Ronaldo show.
We go behind the scenes in Ronaldo’s impressive houses and museums and see a lot of his mom Dolores Aveiro and his playful young son Christiano Junior. What we don’t see is anything of the mother of that child (who remains unknown), who the little one was told is dead, and of Irina Shayk, the then girlfriend of Cristiano Ronaldo from 2010-2014. The makers said that Irina was cut from the documentary because the film is only 92 minutes long? It’s believed the boy came from a surrogate woman. Again we don’t want to be distracted from the monomaniac narrative. His mom appears very protective of him in the film, aso do the family, and we also meet his brother Ramiz, who has the honor of running Ronaldo’s personal museum of his life and football memorabilia. Everyone in the family is working for the good of Ronaldo although his father Hugo died in 2005 and so we only see archive footage of him. Ronaldo admitted his father ‘always drank’ and I’m guessing if he was still alive today he too would be erased from the film for not being up to scratch.
The football and family archive footage is decent stuff and gives the film some sort of depth we can explore. A lot of the film is those adoring fans and fancy soirées around match footage and that personal time and we also glimpse Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s super agent, a guy who bagged $20 million dollars from Christiano’s world record move from United to Madrid and negotiated Jose Moronhio a five million dollar ‘retainer’ with Manchester United after he left Chelsea to make sure he didn’t sign with anyone else during that 6 month gap. I think he also earned of Pogba’s move to United. If United wanted to see Ronaldo and Madrid wanted to buy him then why did he need an agent? The answer, of course, is a lot of that $20 money is ‘shared out’ to all sorts.
A lot of the film is Ronaldo creating scenes were he appears domestic and just like you and me as he takes his kid to school and plays with CJ at home. But you guess he rarely drives his kid to school and a bustling team of child minders, cooks and maids taking care of his every need off camera. I can’t see him changing nappies if I am honest. It’s almost like watching a Pharo in ancient Egypt in his pyramid surrounded by gold and exclusivity. Apart from the shots of Ronaldo alone with his kids, no beautiful women and the revelation that it’s all about the ballon de or, there is not much else going on here. It’s all about access with the A-List and they only feed you what they want to feed you to retain that status. Michael Caine openly admitted he would not take movies that threatened that status, regardless of the paycheck. Ronaldo is not about to drop a consonant in the fame alphabet with a warts an all expose.
I think hagiography (the making of a saint) is the best way to describe this vanity project. Because soccer players are so cosseted and protected from the outside world any sort of documentary on them is interesting though. There is no mention of his tax avoidance or rumors of homosexuality, of course, and little emotional content. He is believed to be dating a Moroccan UFC fighter which he allegedly flies over to see in the week but the story buried at birth. Photos of him and ‘Badr Hari ‘seem to show some level of intimacy although to be fair I think he is a rare case of a footballer able to ‘come out’ and keep his admiration levels. I recall he was accused of rape in his early days at Manchester United but nothing came of it, almost as if his people want to let you know he was a red blooded heterosexual – that wears pink nail varnish and has his eyebrows plucked. Gay men can be narcissistic and this film at least fits that part of the puzzle.
What is interesting here is Ronaldo sees the ‘Balloon De Or’ as the ‘be all and end all’ of his football career and would rather win those than the Champions League. He quite simply wants to be the best in the world and trophies and great goals simply the method and red carpet to get him there. Goals and personal glory are more important than team mates to Ronaldo it seems. But it’s easy to do that in the Spanish League and why Messi and Ron clean up, Athletico Madrid the only other team that gets within 20 points of them. 30 hatricks in La Liga is bloody impressive though. We also learnt that the taking off Cristiano Ronaldo’s jersey to celebrate his goal in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final was done for the documentary.
It’s not s terrible as the 17% Rottentomatos awarded it and you have to judge this by what’s not seen in the film and read into the body language and the relationships on screen to try and fill the huge gaps. I can’t say I like Ronaldo as a bloke but he is a mighty footballer, pace, strength, tricks and just about everything else. If he passed the bloody thing he would be truly great. This film is not great but its not as terrible as it should be, considering…
Imdb.com – 6.4/10.0 (10,465votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 17% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 23% critic’s approval
The Independent –‘This is probably the most insightful film about the life of a footballer off the pitch since Vikash Dhorasoo's Substitute’.
The Times –‘A grossly uncritical slice of hagiography’..
The International Times –‘A complete waste of time unless you are a diehard fan of Cristiano Ronaldo’.
The Guardian –‘This is for fans only’.
Radio Times –‘As much an exercise in showcasing conspicuous wealth as an insight into the man and his achievements, this is a vulgar vanity project that massively misses a unique opportunity.’