THE RONDA ROUSEY STORY: THROUGH MY FATHER'S EYES -- A Personal but Unconvincing Biography of a Legendary Fighter
Review by Sean Boelman
Hoping to give fans a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes life of the famous wrestler and MMA fighter, The Ronda Rousey Story: Through My Father’s Eyes is a new sports documentary offering a biography of the athlete, albeit with a more personal touch. However, despite the wealth of the filmmakers had at their disposal, this ultimately comes across as a bland attempt at making a celebrity seem more “down-to-earth”.
As one would expect, the film explores Rousey’s rise to success and the various obstacles she has faced along her journey. A particular focus is given in the movie to Rousey’s relationship with her father, who died when she was young and played an integral role in her desire to become an athlete. As one of the world’s most famous and talented fighters competing today, the story of how she got to this level is certainly going to be of interest to her fans.
One of the biggest problems with this film is that it is unable to feel deep enough to make the audience identify with the subject on a deeper level. Although fans are likely to have a pre-existing connection with Rousey, other viewers are unlikely to find themselves particularly moved by what they see in this movie, as it fails to provide any insight into her life or career beyond the superficial.
As the title implies, the film’s emotional crux comes from Rousey trying to live her life in a way that would have made her late father proud. While this does humanize Rousey and make her story feel a lot more sympathetic, it isn’t always used effectively. Some of the interviews in which Rousey is reflecting on her life and thinking about her father end up feeling quite artificial, as if they exist for the sole purpose of tugging at the audience’s heartstrings.
On a technical level, the movie feels like it was made decades ago, the visuals looking like they were shot and edited on technology that has long been obsolete. In the beginning of the film, Gary Stretch, who also narrates, explains how he was drawn to Rousey’s story when he became friends with her. What viewers will soon come to realize is that, no matter how interesting the story is, Stretch does not have the ability to tell it in a cinematic way.
The interviews in the movie are shot in a way that does not follow the conventions of standard framing practices, and the results are not aesthetically appealing in any way. Some of the interviews are out of focus, and others are composed in a way that results in the subjects’ heads being cut off. Stretch’s lack of experience is a filmmaker is obvious and frequently distracting.
That said, with Stretch’s background in sports (he was a boxer himself), one would think that the sports sequences would be more prevalent in the film than they are. Instead, the movie almost exclusively tells the emotional and human side of Rousey’s story. Additional fight scenes would have gone a long way in making the documentary more cinematic and enjoyable.
The Ronda Rousey Story: Through My Father’s Eyes has something to offer for fans, but will be of little appeal to anyone else. Because the film isn’t particularly well-made, it is disappointingly difficult to get invested in Rousey’s story.
The Ronda Rousey Story: Through My Father’s Eyes is available on VOD beginning November 19.