The Wrestler

Film, Drama
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The Wrestler
After ‘The Fountain’, Darren Aronofsky has something to prove. It’s a question of reliability: can Aronofsky suppress the subversive tendencies which resulted in ‘Pi’ and ‘Requiem for a Dream’ and put together a commercially viable but artistically satisfying picture?

Narratively, ‘The Wrestler’ is solid, even unspectacular. It uses its central character – Mickey Rourke’s ex-WWF champ Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson – as a baseline from which to explore a familiar tale of loss and renewal. Writer Robert D Siegel takes the obvious option at most turns – throwing in an estranged kid here, a stripper girlfriend there.

It’s lucky, then, that ‘The Wrestler’ gets everything else right.  Aronofsky directs with unfussy candour, alternating between the intensity of the wrestling and the drabness of Randy’s ‘real’ life. His biggest contribution is to stand aside and let Rourke go to work: the embodiment of the middle-aged comeback kid, it would have been easy for Rourke to play the Ram as a version of himself. But while the role is loaded, Rourke never coasts, delivering a committed, sympathetic portrait of a humble man cornered by bad decisions.

Perhaps because it’s his voice we hear over the closing credits, ‘The Wrestler’ has been likened to Springsteen: both employ familiar, even old- fashioned elements, but both manage to spin them into something meaningful through sheer quality of craftsmanship and emotional investment in the material. That this material is a little stale disappoints, but this is rendered irrelevant by Aronofsky’s direction and Rourke’s performance.

By: Tom Huddleston

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday January 16 2009
Duration: 109 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenwriter: Robert D. Siegel
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood
Marisa Tomei
Mickey Rourke
Judah Friedlander

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|36
1 person listening

Mickey Rourke blew me away with this brilliant performance. Surpasses everything he's done, including Angel Heart.


Mickey Rourke blew me away with this brilliant performance. Surpasses everything he's done, including Angel Heart.


This was a dull film. 1/3 of the way in I felt like turning it off. As the film ended I wish i had....


A beautiful movie . . . . . Athough ostensibly about `the wrestler,` the film successfully deals with universal themes . . . ageing, loneliness and human yearning for identity and recognition. Both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei give outstanding,committed performances which touch the heart and leave a resonance long after the film finishes. It is also a truly original film and viewers should ignore negative comments such as `stale` or `cliched` as this is a beautifully structured film which manages to be optimistic and realistic at the same time, eschewing political correctness and leaving viewerst o make their own judgements. Lap-dancing and wrestling my not be your `cup of tea` but this film successfully delineates the `humanity` of its characters, without being sentimental or over-critical. Without doubt, a compelling, sublime, and `achingly human` movie.


A beautiful movie . . . . . Athough ostensibly about `the wrestler,` the film successfully deals with universal themes . . . ageing, loneliness and human yearning for identity and recognition. Both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei give outstanding,committed performances which touch the heart and leave a resonance long after the film finishes. It is also a truly original film and viewers should ignore negative comments such as `stale` or `cliched` as this is a beautifully structured film which manages to be optimistic and realistic at the same time, eschewing political correctness and leaving viewerst o make their own judgements. Lap-dancing and wrestling my not be your `cup of tea` but this film successfully delineates the `humanity` of its characters, without being sentimental or over-critical. Without doubt, a compelling, sublime, and `achingly human` movie.


Hi, I'm female & I saw this by accident with a friend. Wanted to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona but was starting to late..Anyhow, I loved it.My friend didnt like it but I found it surprisingly touching..In the words of Time Out: "But while the role is loaded, Rourke never coasts, delivering a committed, sympathetic portrait of a humble man cornered by bad decisions." That's what I found touching. The simple story of a humble man and of a certain America that people hardly see..to me it just says that it's not because these guys are poor, uneducated and made bad choices that they are bad people & shd be despised. I found the camera showed this poor guy's life with a lot of compassion and respect ..and it showed that distress, misery and rejection don't only exist in the 3rd world. Maybe we should take a good look at our Western societies and values and at all the misery on our doorstep..I guess some people hated this film partly because that made them uncomfortable in their selfishness.. This film left me with a feeling of immense sadness..and if it managed to make me feel & think so much then the director and the actor must had done something right. Rourke deserved the Oscar.


Hi, I'm female & I saw this by accident with a friend. Wanted to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona but was starting to late..Anyhow, I loved it.My friend didnt like it but I found it surprisingly touching..In the words of Time Out: "But while the role is loaded, Rourke never coasts, delivering a committed, sympathetic portrait of a humble man cornered by bad decisions." That's what I found touching. The simple story of a humble man and of a certain America that people hardly see..to me it just says that it's not because these guys are poor, uneducated and made bad choices that they are bad people & shd be despised. I found the camera showed this poor guy's life with a lot of compassion and respect ..and it showed that distress, misery and rejection don't only exist in the 3rd world. Maybe we should take a good look at our Western societies and values and at all the misery on our doorstep..I guess some people hated this film partly because that made them uncomfortable in their selfishness.. This film left me with a feeling of immense sadness..and if it managed to make me feel & think so much then the director and the actor must had done something right. Rourke deserved the Oscar.


It is a brilliant film with amazing and meaningful performance of Mickey Rourke. Just read on the interviews and background stories. Note the original Guns n Roses track is quite rare as well. Big up for Aronofsky to make it happen. Very sensitive in all dimensions I can imagine, no matter if you fan of US wrestling or not. (I'm not).


It is a brilliant film with amazing and meaningful performance of Mickey Rourke. Just read on the interviews and background stories. Note the original Guns n Roses track is quite rare as well. Big up for Aronofsky to make it happen. Very sensitive in all dimensions I can imagine, no matter if you fan of US wrestling or not. (I'm not).


One word - awesome. From the realistic, girtty directing to Rourke's powerhouse performance - everything about this film is brilliant. It is the crime of the year that this film was not nominated for Best Film. The people below giving this film 1 star clearly have no taste whatsoever. Ignore them.


One word - awesome. From the realistic, girtty directing to Rourke's powerhouse performance - everything about this film is brilliant. It is the crime of the year that this film was not nominated for Best Film. The people below giving this film 1 star clearly have no taste whatsoever. Ignore them.


laughed out loud several time, not because the movie was funny but because I couldn't believe how utterly ridiculous this film was. There goes 2 hours of my life I will never get back.


wanted a refund - waste of time and money cannot understand why all of the above enjoy and this won an award


A tedious film unless you find WWF entertaining, hard to engage with the character and familiar storyline. Just never punch a meatcutter is the moral of the story.


This movie is cool! Great story with meaning...Go see it, you wont be dissapointed.


This movie is cool! Great story with meaning...Go see it, you wont be dissapointed.


This film was amazing loved it all didn't we Hannah!! great story line!! never thought t would end like that was sad but great at the same time!!! EVERYONE WATCH IT !!! you won't regret it!!


This film was amazing loved it all didn't we Hannah!! great story line!! never thought t would end like that was sad but great at the same time!!! EVERYONE WATCH IT !!! you won't regret it!!


Superb! What a beautiful and touching film about a guy who gets everything right except life.


Superb! What a beautiful and touching film about a guy who gets everything right except life.


all the way thru you think - yeah this is a good maybe really good film, great acting, direction...but then at the end...you just think...awesome


all the way thru you think - yeah this is a good maybe really good film, great acting, direction...but then at the end...you just think...awesome


A Mickey Rourke film is a rare treat never to be missed & after the epic Sin City you won't be disappointed with Rourke playing the once great & now aged peroxide blond Randy the Ram - hey I'm a gal & not a wrestling fan but the inside into the wrestling word is a great one frenzied in the ring & slap on the back buddies behind the scenes - you see Rourke at his best he brilliantly plays Randy who gave up most things in life (family gainful job) for his wrestling career - when health matters force a change Rourke sensitively portrays a man trying to regain these values to no avail - he maybe a man whose face is certainly changed from 9.5 weeks but boy he's all the better for this fantastic role & the body (if his) is in great shape - let's hope a nomination is on it's way - Fantastic film- fantastic Rourke girls get there & see it!


A Mickey Rourke film is a rare treat never to be missed & after the epic Sin City you won't be disappointed with Rourke playing the once great & now aged peroxide blond Randy the Ram - hey I'm a gal & not a wrestling fan but the inside into the wrestling word is a great one frenzied in the ring & slap on the back buddies behind the scenes - you see Rourke at his best he brilliantly plays Randy who gave up most things in life (family gainful job) for his wrestling career - when health matters force a change Rourke sensitively portrays a man trying to regain these values to no avail - he maybe a man whose face is certainly changed from 9.5 weeks but boy he's all the better for this fantastic role & the body (if his) is in great shape - let's hope a nomination is on it's way - Fantastic film- fantastic Rourke girls get there & see it!


A beautifully simple plot and a totally heartbreaking, funny and poignant performance from Rourke. Film of the year so far


A beautifully simple plot and a totally heartbreaking, funny and poignant performance from Rourke. Film of the year so far


Totally rate this movie. No-one better to play the part,reminded me of Rourke's own struggle with life. Totally believable I wantto see it again. Oh yes great music boyfriend loved hearing the Ratt again!


Totally rate this movie. No-one better to play the part,reminded me of Rourke's own struggle with life. Totally believable I wantto see it again. Oh yes great music boyfriend loved hearing the Ratt again!


Estranged Daughter scenes just do not work. A fine performance from Rourke and a humourous look at the Wrestling industry. Easy watching and not a movie someone with an ounce of intelligence would regret going to see.


Oh dear, I think I will have to wait for this to come out on DVD. I don't want to get body slammed for laughing at the wrestling scenes...


Reasonable film, reasonable acting. Sad and amusing, rather like the sport itself! But we do care about the characters: the fading charms/talent scenario is dealt with well. I would like to have seen a bit more about how he ended up where he was though...oh and more importantly, I really enjoyed hearing the German 80's metal hit 'Balls to the Wall' by Accept. The album was v poor. Don't buy it. Is this a music review page? Oh.


Great movie but the Timeout reviewer has got it wrong, there has never been a wrestler in the WWF / WWE called Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson and it is not based on anyone from that organisation, it is a fictional story. However there are a few similarities with the main charecter and Jack "The Snake" Roberts from WWF and if you have seen "Beyond the mat" you'll know what I mean


Great movie but the Timeout reviewer has got it wrong, there has never been a wrestler in the WWF / WWE called Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson and it is not based on anyone from that organisation, it is a fictional story. However there are a few similarities with the main charecter and Jack "The Snake" Roberts from WWF and if you have seen "Beyond the mat" you'll know what I mean


Agreed. Mickey Rourke gives an iconic performance; should edge out Sean Penn for the Best Actor Oscar. Fantastic. Aronofsky and Rourke are back.


Agreed. Mickey Rourke gives an iconic performance; should edge out Sean Penn for the Best Actor Oscar. Fantastic. Aronofsky and Rourke are back.