Ronaldinho: the happiest man in the world2022.
Directed by Andrew Douglas and Stewart Douglas.
With Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Guillem Balagué, Juan Laporta, Lionel Messi, Thiago Motta.
A look at the life of iconic Brazilian football star Ronaldinho, focusing on his childhood and a defining stint in his career at FC Barcelona.
Football documentaries cost ten percent, but players like Ronaldinho certainly aren’t. He’s an icon who was a precursor to the Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi debate, and perhaps because of the dominance these two have held over the past twenty years, his legacy outside of the 5000-word articles written by football purists may have been diminished somewhat. Replaced instead with stories of a 6-month stint in a Paraguayan prison, or how his star faded after his spellbinding time in Barcelona. Despite these things, the child with the iconic smile continues to sport the same smile, and this Andrew Douglas and Stewart Douglas documentary will ensure you have your own look of happiness on your face throughout.
Taking a similar approach to many recent football documentaries, the film focuses on a certain period of time as the story’s narrative thread, then swings like Ronaldinho with the ball at his feet through his childhood and today. .
All three have their strengths, but it’s his life away from the hallowed turf of Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium where the real interest lies. Anyone familiar with Ronaldinho will know of his no-look pass, or the kicking finish against Chelsea in the Champions League, or the “Did he really mean that?” free kick against England during the World Cup, but these are the moments when we see this young boy, brought up in the garden by his brother and father, explode into life on a 5-a-side indoor pitch at the Brazil, that smile that breaks on his face, that the documentary finds its rhythm.
Footage like this provides a great counterpoint to how the documentary frames Ronaldinho these days. The loss of his father is etched on a face that sometimes betrays the eternally optimistic superstar. There are some self-reflective scenes, including a walk through his childhood home with his brother, which add a real element of pathos to his story, reinforcing the importance of family to Ronaldinho. Always by his side, his brother is also his agent, a relationship that can so often make the headlines in the tabloids when it comes to footballers. We’ll never know how seamless it all is, but here it’s presented as an unbreakable, loving bond that was essential in helping him become the superstar he was.
Testimony to the supernova of a player he was can be found in the footage of his landmark Barcelona career years. A crumbling giant when he joined them, a time when Messi’s name (who contributes heartily here) was only on the lips of the Under-13 manager, so much pressure was put on this generational talent, and he delivered. It’s amazing to see Ronaldinho doing what he does, because nobody does it like him, before or since.
The happiest man in the world is a callback to an elite player who brought a smile to the faces of fans around the world that was almost as big as his own. In this age of ego and exposition, the film portrays a man who, when you strip away strides and skills, simply wanted to entertain.
Ronaldinho: The Happiest Man Alive is currently available to stream on FIFA+
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie ★★★★ / Movie ★★★
Matt Rodgers – follow me on twitter