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Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything review

If you’re hoping for a feel-good story in Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything, you may come out of it with a sense of disappointment.

The new documentary film, which follows the game’s greatest talent during the 2021/22 season, is released this week.

Directed by Sam Blair and produced by David Beckham’s Studio 99, it provides fans with an up close and personal view of the Rocket’s relentless drive and inner turmoil.

In many respects, snooker takes an uncomfortable backseat as we are guided through O’Sullivan’s troubled family past, his struggles for perfection, and his battles with mental health and addiction.

While there are snippets of his performances at the 2021 Scottish Open and the 2022 Masters, the documentary mostly builds to the crescendo of O’Sullivan’s tilt at securing a seventh world title.

A lot of the slickly produced footage is engrossing, especially at the Crucible final itself when he grapples with his mental demons while attempting to keep a charging Judd Trump at bay.

For the first time, we get to hear what is said during that infamously long embrace between the two players after O’Sullivan had sunk the triumphant balls in Sheffield.

It’s a touching moment, albeit it’s still a somewhat awkward one.

And I must say that I found much of the documentary to be a little awkward.

There were some very meaningful parts, and we got to associate with both the good and bad sides of O’Sullivan’s tempestuous personality.

However, while supporters of the player and the sport will undoubtedly get sucked into his real-life drama, it’s difficult to see how it will attract many outsiders.

The snippets of O’Sullivan’s early success, which come in the form of random clips accompanied by very little context, are too muddled and confusing.

There is very much a feel in both the scattered direction and the harrowing sound that we’re supposed to embrace the mental torture that O’Sullivan has lived through – not just on the table, but more importantly off it.

The documentary is a little all over the place at times, but so are O’Sullivan’s emotions, and I suppose that’s what still makes it a compelling watch.

“My highs and lows have been well-documented by the media, but I felt like now was the right time to do something more definitive,” Ronnie O’Sullivan said.

“Something that I can look back and reflect on as I contemplate retirement. Going into my seventh World Championship, I wasn’t sure I had it in me.”

“But allowing the cameras in ended up driving me on in many ways and gave me a different perspective.” 

Oddly enough, for all the excitement at the time surrounding him being mic’d up, we don’t actually get that much of his in-match reactions while inside the Crucible Theatre, which is a shame.

What we do see are the raw emotions he feels while in the heat of battle, and particularly in between sessions.

The nerves and the butterflies he jostles with, and an intense conflict within himself to simply remain in control at all times.

Also confirmed is that, no matter how often he tells us otherwise, he does care – about competing and winning, about surviving, and about what people think of him.

That, perhaps, is the most fascinating takeaway.


Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything will debut on Tuesday 21st in a one-night-live premiere screening that will be streamed to select cinemas.

The film will then be available on Prime Video in the UK & Ireland on Thursday 23rd, before opening in select cinemas on Friday 24th November.

Featured photo credit: WST

8 Comments

  1. So you were another snooker journalist that got a chance to see it before it hits cinemas?

    A mixed review from yourself does make me wonder if it might be better to wait until I can access it on a streaming service rather than go to the cinema. I do feel, however, that as a hard-core fan I may still enjoy it more than yourself.

    On BBC Two this Wednesday at 7pm he’s involved in a 45 minute interview with the very agreeable Amol Rajan.

    Dave Hendon’s latest episode of his podcast is a review of the film. I’ve yet to hear what he thinks.

    • Yes, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peak. I think it might have benefited from being a mini series with episodes, but it’s still pretty good overall. I think the intense and dramatic sound that it employs would be suited to cinemas.

  2. I’ve never been in doubt he cares as you don’t put in the work he does if you didn’t. That dismissiveness has always been a deflection technique to alleviate pressure. You see it more explicitly with Nick Kyrgios.

    I think it’s human nature to some degree to care what people think of you but I’ve found in my thirties that I care a little less than in my teens and twenties!

  3. The premiere on Tuesday is also followed by a Q and A with David Beckham, chaired by Alistair Campbell.

  4. Daniel White

    If three players have made snooker the technical and professional sport that it is today: Joe Davis, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, then equally, there have been three players who have popularised and commercialised the sport: Alex Higgins, Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan and all three have “interesting” back stories as people. O’Sullivan obviously is the only one still in the elite ranks of the sport up to today. He is unique for the sport of snooker because he is also as successful competitively as he is commercially.

  5. The soundtrack is incredible in a cinema, I don’t think it could be repeated at home (at least not without a serious hifi setup). It was orchestrated to the film and works brilliantly.

    I was slightly perplexed that there was no reference to the brilliant World Grand Prix win that season, which Ronnie himself admits made him believe he could still win big titles. I also believe he said something about “finding something” when losing in the Tour Championship and Gibraltar too, which again got no mention. Minor details to casual viewers perhaps but his performance certainly v Williams in the Tour Championship and specifically the frame from 2 snookers down v Robertson at WGP were points where a Ronnie fan like me thought the 7th WC was on.

    But I do agree it’s less of a snooker purist film and makes more of the “tortured genius” sportsman storyline, something Beckham said appealed to him when considering funding it in the Q&A.

    Cracking watch though, would recommend.

  6. I’ve now been to the cinema to watch and would award it four stars, one more than I’m the Guardian and Radio Times.

    The direction is a little scattergun and that will make it more difficult for the casual snooker fan to understand.

    The production was excellent and to hear from his parents felt fresh and extremely powerful. It also benefited from offering a balanced take on O’Sullivan’s personality. These documentary portraits can sometimes become a hagiography.

    One small bonus was to footage from his 128 break, against Nigel Bond, at the 1996 Masters. This break is a YouTube favourite of mine and is evidence of his natural talent just as much as the fabled 147 a year later. He barely address the cue ball as he continues potting at breakneck speed that has commentators John Virgo and Ray Edmonds purring over the audacity of O’Sullivan’s play.

  7. When it will be accessible in India or other countries?

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