The Wrestler - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Wrestler Reviews

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½ June 17, 2018
It's official. I just don't get Hollywood.

Tonight I watched Mickey Rourke's highly-touted comeback (although I consider his perfect performance as Marv in Sin City as a more appropriate example of his comeback) in The Wrestler. While his performance is phenomenal, Sean Penn deserved the Oscar. I'm glad I saw both performances and feel good that the best man won.

In any case, The Wrestler itself is an interesting case study in the whole Hollywood scene.

Saturated with near-flawless performances from underrated actors, and filmed in a superb, gritty, honest and raw manner, The Wrestler had the makings of another Raging Bull. Where it lost its way, however, is in the script and, in some way, the directing.

Don't get me wrong. The Wrestler is a good movie. And I would rather watch it a hundred times than endure Benjamin Button again. However, it has some very basic flaws that, amazingly, have gone nearly unnoticed in most reviews I've read. Luckily there are a few out there who saw the same movie I did, but it begs the question of how in the world do seasoned film critics miss the basics? How can someone give this movie 4 stars when it breaks the simplest of film making rules??

For the first hour of this nearly two-hour film is perfect. Shot in a documentary style, with very little scripted dialogue, what the viewer is exposed to is the seedy underbelly of the wrestling world. What a miserable existence is portrayed. Emotionally, the viewer IMMEDIATELY connects with what the people/characters are doing, why they do it, etc. It's sad. It's pathetic. It's depressing as hell.

Then, the main character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, has a heart attack, which requires a bypass and immediate retirement. Understandably, Randy's miserable existence as a washed up wrestler, compounded by this sudden health problem, which only exacerbates his miserable existence, would lead to introspection and making amends for any wrongdoing in his life.

But here is where the movie loses me.

I've been sucked in. I'm THERE. I am completely following, understanding and sympathizing with Randy. I'm even following why he would want to make amends. I'm even there when he initially approaches a long-lost daughter, who is not mentioned at all until his heart attack. And then suddenly a movie that is all about developing the emotional connection between the audience and the characters through exposure to reality, suddenly turns into a movie with a lot of sappy dialogue that heavily forces the viewer to shift from a reality-based understanding, to a manufactured one. One that is clearly script-driven and over-Hollywood, when much of the dialogue up until now has almost been banter-like and ad-libbed. Very natural to almost unnatural.

Like Benjamin Button, it's these forced mechanics that drive me, as a viewer INSANE.

The movie still has very incredible moments throughout the rest of the film, mostly performance-driven. At no point can I say that Mickey and Marisa are not good in this film. They are amazing. It's just that the script lingers far too close to Leaving Las Vegas and Rocky to feel too good about the power of this story.

Review after review that I've read focus heavily on the performances and the sadness of the story. And those are all very true. The Wrestler is just very clumsily written. And there is nothing that the director does to correct it.

It's clear that the purpose of this movie is not only to show the grittiness of the whole wrestling scene, but also show how desperate a man can get when everything seems to go wrong for him. That is why it puzzled me beyond belief why the director would entice me, emotionally, into feeling a certain way and feeding it to me in a specific way, then decide to tug harder on my heart, but with weak, forced dramatic situations, completely opposite of the first hour.

The pivotal scene for me in the movie is when, after failing to reconcile with his daughter right after his heart attack, he eventually talks her into going to the beach in Jersey with him. Suddenly, a daughter we never heard anything about, and his memories of her as a child that we had never heard anything about, are supposed to mean so much to us as a viewer that we are to get sucked into his and her emotional pain.

Well, I had an hour to develop feelings about him as a wrestler. And I had 5 minutes to care about this father/daughter relationship. I just didn't buy it. Randy's "confession" about how he is a busted up piece of meat is corny, but I'm still with the movie up until this point, though squirming in my seat. The final straw was, as they walk up and down the beach and its abandoned buildings, we are shown a scene where the daughter is walking slightly behind Randy. Then we are forced to see her looking off to the side in deep thought, then speed up to catch up with Randy and hug his arm.

This scene made me sigh aloud.

A movie that had been so real, suddenly turned into a fake Hollywood film.

Luckily the movie saves most of itself by showing Randy disappoint his daughter again, take her harsh words to him as a complete fuck up to heart, then make the decision within himself to just go back to wrestling, despite his delicate heart, because he can't really do anything else and he doesn't care anymore if he lives or dies. He really doesn't have anything else for which to live.

I like The Wrestler. I really did. It's just that the same emotional connection between two hard-luck characters, void of a moral compass, who find each other and are kindreds, was very much done more perfectly in Leaving Las Vegas. Because it WAS handled so perfectly, the structural flaw in The Wrestler was just too blatantly obvious. And the washed up athlete trying to get back on top has just been done, with a lot more perfection, in movies like Raging Bull and Rocky.

The movie was tailor made for Rourke though, and it is a wonderful example of how much talent he has. The best thing about this movie is that we will probably be seeing a lot more of him. I just wish Hollywood and up-and-coming film makers will try a little harder when attempting a film of this emotional caliber.
March 13, 2018
This movie was a unique, raw story that represents an unfortunate reality for too many veteran wrestlers that prospered in their work back in their prime, but have fallen greatly from such heights due to poor life decisions and the cut-throat business of professional wrestling. Mickey Rourke gives one of the greatest performances I've seen and the cinematography was exceptional. My only gripe with this film was the unnecessary amount of nudity. I understand Aronofsky was trying to get as real as possible, but I think he could have sent the same message without the insane amount of nudity and sexual content. Therefore, despite the great performances, script, and cinematography, it loses two stars for me. As a pro wrestling fan, I think a better watch would be the Jake the Snake documentary or, "Beyond the Mat". However, for all intents and purposes, this movie got the job done.
½ March 5, 2018
Dopo essersi dedicato a temi religiosi, metafisici e filosofici, Aronofsky ci propone un film più pragmatico, più terreno, più umano. The Wrestler è un film semplice, con una narrativa lineare e pochi personaggi, con dialoghi essenziali e realistici, ed un messaggio profondissimo e toccante. Mickey Rourke è spettacolare, l'interpretazione migliore della sua carriera che meritava tutti i preziosi riconoscimenti che ha ricevuto. Il film gira tutto su di lui, con le sue espressioni e con una sua recitazione sincera riesce a dare vita ad un personaggio intramontabile. Lo stile generale del film è coerente con il tema trattato, riprese a mano, piani sequenza ruvidi e tagli solo quando necessari: tutto questo confeziona un'esperienza umana e vicinissima allo spettatore dal punto di vista emotivo. Risulta molto difficile infatti non commuoversi di fronte ad una tale esplosione di emozione, che culmina in un finale incredibilmente sensibile e toccante. Un film enorme, tra i migliori degli ultimi anni e in assoluto il migliore della filmografia di questo grande regista.
½ February 10, 2018
Although it is tempting to focus all praise on Mickey Rourke for his stellar performance it would be a disservice to the outstanding job done by the supporting cast, director Aronofsky and everybody else involved in this deeply moving film.
January 16, 2018
Predictably tragic. But Mickey Rourke is really good.
½ December 28, 2017
I can see why rourke is getting oscar buzz. he was awesome. so was tomei. i like this style of aronofsky. everything is sad and real. no happy endings here.
½ December 19, 2017
Puntaje Original: 5.5

Introspectiva y reflexiva, pero sobretodo aburrida.
December 9, 2017
How weak and how strong is Mickey Rourke's overwhelming wrestler - his performance rings just a true as Gloria Swanson's did in 'Sunset Boulevard', for there's much of the artist in the athlete, and there's much of the athlete in the artist -they depend on the crowd. And that's the whole point of 'The Wrestler', Randy the Ram is old, washed up, but he's still here, easily making up for the flaws and numerous clichés of the film. Even the score of Aronofski's movie is dated, like its heartbreaking character. What 'The Wrestler' does, also, is giving an ode, and a beautiful and necessary one (though far from flawless), to a too often despised sport and a crude form of entertainment (which shouldn't be ignored).
November 14, 2017
Touching, emotional, excellent actings, Mickey Rourke Rocks! Amazing history, fantastic even simple!
½ October 28, 2017
great movie. mickey Rourke unbelievable. great and sad movie about a wrestler who is scarred physically and mentally and you know has a little heart in him but tries to hide it. only take off half star because a little to long. but a magnificent movie
½ October 6, 2017
Puntaje Original: 5.5

Introspectiva y reflexiva, pero sobretodo aburrida.
September 20, 2017
Mickey Rourke hesitated to take on this close-to-home role, a character once successful but now facing the persona of a failure - not just as formerly adored wrestler The Ram, but as a father also. A dark, sometimes graphic story that even at its most predictable moments is captivating - this is Rourke's movie though allowing the cliche this might be the role he was born to play. There will be 5 nominees for the Best Actor Oscar this year, here's one of them...
September 6, 2017
The Wrestler is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and it stars Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood in a sports drama about a wrestler that has been wrestling for a long time, and after a recent heart attack that almost killed him, Randy (Mickey Rourke) wanted to get his life back together, whether it be financial wise, and family. With his next film mother! coming next week, I wanted to watch one of his films that I haven't reviewed, and with this being on my DirecTV list, I figure I should watch this and see how it is. Mickey Rourke is born to play this type of character as he's perfect as a wrestler that is very well known, has his signature moves, and is very likable with everybody, which I didn't know when watching the film that Mickey Rourke was actually a boxer at one time. Marisa Tomei was very believable as a stripper that I think she's very much brace for showing the body bare while dancing very sensual for the people inside the strip club. I like the chemistry between Randy and Pam as it seems genuine and very odd as you wouldn't expect someone like those two to have a heart to heart conversation. Even though Evan Rachel Wood isn't in it that much, she's still great in what's she in, and she has some emotional moments that are done well. The one main aspect that separates this from the other wrestling films, is that it focuses more on the characters than the fighting scenes. Now there's no lack thereof for the fighting scenes as there are a few of them, they are enjoyable to watch that you're having just as much fun as the audience is, and you see how they do their own wrestling that while it's all the act, they have fun with it while doing some real good damage to each other. This is basically a character-driven film with some wrestling aspects to it, and the writing by Robert D. Siegel, with maybe a few rewrites from the director and Mickey Rourke himself, is fantastic that brings it down to some actual human conversations that seem very laid back, but not in a boring way. Even the direction by Darren Aronofsky is interesting in that this is different from the weird and creepy stuff that he has done before, and it really felt like I was watching a documentary about a fictional character that felt real to me. The only time where it might be starting to become a movie is in the last 20 minutes of it, but it never seem to betray the documentary aspect as we understand why he's doing this, and the direction and writing still remain strong. The Wrestler is probably my favorite wrestling film, and for me, one of Darren Aronofsky's best because the movie felt so human to me, which is what the best films should be to my personal taste in one of those aspects, and I think this is a masterpiece.
September 2, 2017
Different, daring and powerful. this can be viewed multiple times and still is just as effective as your first viewing. so much is said in a film with limited story and dialogue making this a humbling yet memorable experience for viewers. anyone who hasnt experiences this film are missing out on a true gem and are in for a treat.
August 14, 2017
It's a tremendously affecting story about the fall of a man, and it offers a phenomenal performance by Rourke.
July 28, 2017
Story about an aging wrestler who tries to re-connect with his estranged daughter. Most actors today overact and ruin a movie. This movie has some great understated acting. Aronofsky does an excellent job of creating something out of nothing. I hope he does another movie with this type of down on your luck storyline.
July 22, 2017
Rourke is forceful and aches with emotion; Aronofsky may create the seedy world that feels real and true but the lead performance transcends it, bringing new meaning to acting itself.
jamrcla
Super Reviewer
July 19, 2017
It's hard after watching this to not compare it to the Rocky series as it's basically Rocky 1,5 & 6 in one film except wrestling not boxing, The film itself is brilliant, A very slow burner at times but a well told story and some great acting performances really help things along, Especially Mickey Rourke who puts in the performance of his life, Being a hardcore wrestling fan I kicked myself waiting so long to watch this, The ending was perfect and you could call it a cliffhanger but it was more of a relief that it let's you decide in your heart what happened but that haunting song after the film finishes only makes you think one way, If you're a fan of the Rocky films you should love this or even just love a great drama with a little twist to the norm you will love this too.
July 7, 2017
not as good as i had excepted...
½ May 31, 2017
An honest and raw character study that, like many of Aronofsky's other films, is about desperate people clawing toward status; deeply complex humans that are utterly dissatisfied with their place in life.
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