Hard hitting and honest
Review: Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller
For fans of virtually every combat sport, Mauro Ranallo’s is a voice that should be familiar. The journey that he has taken to become a prolific announcer in wrestling, boxing, and MMA seems on the outset like a meteoric rise. And yet, on many occasions the charismatic Canadian has crashed down to earth. Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller details Ranallo’s struggles with Bipolar Disorder over a thirty year period.
Showtime have taken a deep dive into their own footage library and Ranallo’s own home videos. The way that many key moments of his life have been recorded is quite confronting to behold. Viewers are given a close up look at his manias, breakdowns, and hospitalisations. The whole experience reveals much about a mental health journey that started when doctors did not know as much about Bipolar (then known as manic depression). The candour with which Ranallo shares his moments of mania and the lows of depression is notable. With his proximity to the production, a less personal and eye opening portrayal would have surely been a possibility, but the camera nonetheless rolls at a number of key times.
At first, seeing so many aspects of his life is confronting and even off putting, and yet this look into a public figure’s inner life is where Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller stands out. In his willingness to put himself in front of the camera’s red light, Mauro Ranallo does much to cast the light on mental ill health’s true face, part of his ongoing efforts to destigmatise it. This is no twee, pre-packaged or half-honest inspirational story. Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller depicts the ways in which treatment for Ranallo has changed over the course of his life, with recounts (and yes, some footage) of his hospitalisations.
The film’s producers manage to get access to a number of key figures in Ranallo’s life, including his parents, brothers, ex-girlfriend (and Hart family member), his business manager Frank Shamrock, his friend and mentor Bas Rutton, and his current WWE boss Paul Levesque. In keeping with the film’s trend, these interviewees never spare Ranallo’s ego. And yet they paint the picture of a troubled yet enduring figure with a determination to succeed in his industry and an almost superhuman (read: God-given) talent. Ranallo has worked as a broadcaster since he was 16 years old. He has never needed to interview for any of the opportunities he has had as an announcer across four combat sports and in radio and yet he has managed to prove himself in each of these.
While Bipolar Rock n Roller gives quite a detailed overview of Ranallo’s career, there are some parts that are glossed over. His initial WWE run is dealt with quickly, largely skipping over some of the conditions that led to its end. The emotional return to NXT is retained, however, as is an inspirational address that Ranallo gave to fans on the subject of mental ill health. The film also shows some of his fans who express how his candour about living with Bipolar has helped them with their own mental health, a reminder of how honesty and authenticity trump celebrity.
Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller is now available to watch free on Youtube. It can be viewed here.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor