Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything is a new documentary about the man who is, quite easily, the most naturally-talented individual in the world of snooker.
Nicknamed ‘The Rocket’ because of his uber-fast pace, he’s a man who’s not wholly satisfied with his lot, given struggles with mental health along with drugs and alcohol over the years, as well as the fact both his parents have gone to jail: his mother, Maria, for a year in 1996, for tax evasion; and his father, Ronald, for a life term in 1992 for murder, and later released after 18 years in 2010.
As an example of his speed, he took the record for the fastest maximum 147 break, at the 1997 World Championship, with a time of just 5 minutes 8 seconds.
Clearly a perfectionist, it can’t be easy when the entire world’s expecting you to perform at the top of your game every time you’re on the baize, but while most of the time, he’ll hit the right mark, then there will be times when he’ll fluff the game in the first round of a new tournament, and is then out. That said, one of his candid revelations in this film is that the times when he’s playing snooker, is the time when he feels most safe from the world, as he says no one else can touch him at that point, and he’s at his most calm.
Apart from post-match interviews, The Rocket is normally a very private man, but now effectively barring his soul, for example even admitting that he’d rather play well and lose, than play badly and win. Hence, it’s not always about winning for him. This was proved in 2012 when he won the World Championship, then took a year off to become a pig farmer!
Coming across as very down to Earth, there’s plenty of interview footage from the man throughout his career, including as a child aged 11, showing he still had the cheeky sensor of humour back then.
However, the ups and downs of his career have clearly got to him at times, such as with one of his moments of arrogance, when he performed badly in a 2006 UK Championship quarter-final against Stephen Hendry, leaving everyone aghast, as he fluffed the ball, then went to Hendry, shook his hand and left the auditorium, later stating that his “head was gone”.
On the plus side, there was also the moment of great compassion in the 2007 UK Masters Final, against Ding Junhui, when he was leading 8-3 in a ‘best of 19 frames’ match, took the next frame to make the score 9-3, at which point Ding came to shake Ronnie’s hand, who then led him round the back for brief chat. It’s not clear whether Ding was confused about the score and thought the match was over, or whether he’d just had enough and wanted to call it a night, but Ronnie did bring him back out again to complete the match, which made the final score 10-3.
At nearly 50, you get the feeling that Ronnie O’Sullivan could still play top-flight snooker even after another 50 years, but to date, he’s won 7 World Championship titles – beating Steve Davis by one, but matching Stephen Hendry’s best. Hendry retired from the game in 2012 – save for returning for the Senior tournmants in 2021 – so Ronnie could easily eclipse this, and given how he has other interests such as writing a number of novels (and maybe pig farming again), I get the feeling he just wants to make it to 8, and then he’ll call time on the table, at the very least to stop him being the powder keg that’s forever threatening to go off.
With additional pieces-to-camera from Mr Hendry along with snooker fan and Rolling Stone, Ronnie Wood, and O’Sullivan’s father – albeit in voice-only, as big a fan of snooker as I am, while Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything is an engaging documentary, I don’t feel like I’ve really learned anything new about him. But then that could be because I’ve seen his career throughout all the moments featured, some of which I’ve mentioned in my review, and are included in this film.
If you have more than a passing interest in snooker – but are not fully au fait with The Rocket’s career, and want to know more – then you’ll find this to be essential viewing.
Thanks to our friends at Amazon Prime Video for the screener prior to release.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything is on Amazon Prime Video from Thursday November 23rd, but the film isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 113 minutes
Release date: November 23rd 2023
Studio: Amazon Prime Video
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
Director: Sam Blair
Executive Producer: David Beckham
Music: Roger Gou
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.