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