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The Wrestler

4.5 14
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood


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His sense of identity fading into nothingness after the spotlights dim and he experiences a close brush with mortality, a retired wrestler begins to evaluate his life while considering the comeback that could very well kill him in director Darren Aronofsky's poignant portrait of an introspective former superstar in the twilight of his


His sense of identity fading into nothingness after the spotlights dim and he experiences a close brush with mortality, a retired wrestler begins to evaluate his life while considering the comeback that could very well kill him in director Darren Aronofsky's poignant portrait of an introspective former superstar in the twilight of his career. Back in his heyday, wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was an icon in the ring. His image immortalized in action figures and video games, he would headline arenas across the globe. Twenty years later, those glory days have passed, and Randy is forced to earn his keep by brawling before handfuls of fans in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey. In the wake of a heart attack, the former icon attempts to earn a little extra cash while working in a deli and making an effort to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). Yet, despite Randy's continued attempts at convincing local stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) to settle down with him in his humble trailer, the ring still calls to him. Later, when the prospect of a high-profile rematch with his longtime nemesis presents itself, Randy is forced to weigh his mortality against his desire to hear the crowd roar one last time. The Wrestler snagged two Oscar nominations, one for Best Actor (Rourke) and one for Best Supporting Actress (Tomei).

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
You don't need to be a fan of wrestling or hair metal to enjoy The Wrestler -- director Darren Aronofsky's poignant glimpse into the life of an aging, broken brawler grappling with failing health and memories of fame long after his glory days have dissipated -- just great acting and assured storytelling. A variation on the Requiem for a Heavyweight model, only set in a different ring, the emotionally resonant drama finds Mickey Rourke (an actor who worked for a time as a professional boxer off-camera) lacing up his boots and following in the footsteps of Anthony Quinn and Jack Palance to remarkable effect, and Rourke feels custom-suited for its hard-living headliner. Hardcore wrestling aficionados will be happy to see a film that deals honestly with the darker side of a sport that takes a heavy physical toll even when the moves are orchestrated, and film lovers will be rooting for Rourke thanks to his complex portrayal of a former god among men forced to confront his own mortality. Back in the late '80s, professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson was headlining matches all across the country. He had his own action figure, and there was even a Nintendo game featuring his signature move -- the devastating "Ram Jam." But time hasn't been kind to the performer, who sacrificed his body in the name of entertainment, and these days, when Randy isn't popping pills to stay in shape and numb his pain, he travels New Jersey performing in high school gymnasiums and community centers. The crowds may not be as large or as loud as they used to be, but as long as Randy can hear their roar as he steps into the ring, he feels fulfilled. Then, after a particularly intense match, Randy suffers a massive heart attack. Informed by his doctor that he could possibly die should he continue to wrestle, Randy reluctantly retires from the ring. In order to make ends meet, Randy picks up some weekend hours at the local grocery-store deli, doing his best to maintain a positive attitude behind the counter as he attempts to convince local stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) to settle down with him and start a life together. But Cassidy isn't quite sure about blurring the line between her personal and professional lives, and while she does her best to walk that fine line, Randy decides that it's finally time to reconnect with the daughter he once left behind. How will his daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), respond to seeing the father who once forsook her in favor of the spotlight? Will Randy's earnest admission of the sins of his past be enough to convince her that he's sincere in his attempts to make amends for his previous transgressions, or did his chance to be a good father pass when he placed more emphasis on beating his former archrival "The Ayatollah" (Ernest Miller) than teaching Stephanie how to ride a bike? As the 20-year anniversary of Randy's landmark match with The Ayatollah draws near, the prospect of a rematch is broached, and the former wrestling superstar wonders what it would be like to hear the crowd chant his name one last time. Seldom has a film role seemed more tailor-made for such a talented star, and from the moment The Ram's face is first revealed, there's little doubt that Rourke inhabits the character entirely; he's got the body to make his character totally believable, and the emotional range to keep us compelled both in and out of the ring. Even when it becomes obvious that Randy hasn't been the best father, we want to see him succeed in reconnecting with his estranged daughter. His quietly desperate speech to her as the pair sits together by the New Jersey shoreline is the heart of the film, and the way Rourke handles the monologue reminds us of just what an amazing actor he can truly be when portraying such a unique and multidimensional character. And while the scenes in which his character interacts with other wrestlers and fans are sure to strike a chord with the Vince McMahon set, it's the emotional weight of the more intimate scenes that gives The Wrestler the universal appeal of any great drama. As we begin to realize that Randy's greatest adversary isn't the opponent threatening to gouge out his eyes and body-slam him into oblivion, but the man staring back at him from behind the mirror, the character's growing vulnerability allows not only Rourke the opportunity to shine, but co-stars Tomei and Wood as well. Wisely, director Aronofsky and screenwriter Robert D. Siegel pepper The Wrestler with some memorable moments of levity that help the film avoid falling into the grim histrionics that left Requiem for a Dream viewers feeling battered and bruised. It's that creative decision, along with some inspired editing choices, that effectively draws the viewer ever deeper into the story while giving us more insight into The Ram's resilient nature than ten pages of melodramatic dialogue ever could. Watching Randy go from busting skulls in the ring to contending with his patronizing manager at the deli paints his inner conflict in a way that is wryly humorous yet acutely piercing, and the skillful use of sound as he swallows his pride and steps behind the counter for the very first time portrays his faded dreams and greatest fears in a way that manages to be playfully ironic without becoming condescending. Likewise, the decision to shoot the film primarily with handheld cameras skillfully subverts the glossy look of the WWE in the wrestling scenes, and instills the emotional scenes with an affecting sense of intimacy that truly resonates. The soundtrack is fully loaded with recognizable hard rock hits from the '80s that serve well to highlight the passage of time, and when Randy climbs the ropes to perform his signature move during the final match, Aronofsky and cinematographer Maryse Alberti present the defining moment with an iconic, low-angle shot so heroic that it could have just as well been captured back when The Ram was idolized by wrestling fans everywhere. It's an eerie yet beautiful image in which all of Randy's personal failures suddenly disappear under the spotlight, and his greatest strengths as both a performer and an athlete finally get the opportunity to shine untarnished.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Fox Searchlight
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; ; Within the Ring - A No-Holds-Barred One-on-One with Wrestlers and Filmmakers; ; "The Wrestler" Music Videos

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mickey Rourke Randy "The Ram" Robinson
Marisa Tomei Cassidy
Evan Rachel Wood Stephanie Robinson
Ernest Miller The Ayatollah
Todd Barry Wayne
Judah Friedlander Scott
Donnetta Lavinia Grays Jen
Mark Margolis Lenny
Wass Stevens Nick
Armin Amiri Doctor
Gregg Bello Larry

Technical Credits
Darren Aronofsky Director,Producer
Maryse Alberti Cinematographer
Jim Black Musical Direction/Supervision
Nicolas Cage Producer
Suzanne Smith Crowley Casting
Scott Franklin Producer
Tim Grimes Production Designer
Mark Heyman Co-producer
Gabe Hilfer Musical Direction/Supervision
Ken Ishii Sound/Sound Designer
Clint Mansell Score Composer
Vincent Maraval Executive Producer
Agnes Mentre Executive Producer
Matt Munn Art Director
Jacob Ribicoff Sound/Sound Designer
Jennifer Roth Executive Producer
Robert Siegel Screenwriter
Mary Vernieu Casting
Andrew Weisblum Editor
Amy Westcott Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Wrestler
1. Main Titles [2:34]
2. Twenty Years Later [4:50]
3. Living on the Edge [2:03]
4. Choreographing The Match [3:12]
5. Weekend Warriors [5:17]
6. The Lovely Cassidy [5:31]
7. Keeping It Going [3:43]
8. The Staple Gun [7:26]
9. It's Your Heart [4:17]
10. Welcome Home [4:09]
11. Can We Talk? [3:22]
12. Trying to Connect [3:10]
13. A Few Autographs [2:41]
14. Feeling Good [4:04]
15. Go With Your Gut [5:38]
16. Deli Man [5:35]
17. Just Hanging Out [2:09]
18. Let's Party [4:56]
19. Never Again! [6:04]
20. Falling Apart [5:16]
21. Back In the Game [3:21]
22. This Is Where I Belong [3:12]
23. The Main Event [4:39]
24. End Titles [7:38]


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The Wrestler 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Alfeetoe More than 1 year ago
This movie, along with Gran Torino, Let the Right One In, and the Fall, was one of the biggest snubs at the Oscars. As the headline suggests, Mickey Rourke put in a stellar performance as Randy, the likes of which I havent seen in years. This is not over the top. This is not your becoming-another-person kind of acting job. This is a pure, semi-autobiographical outpouring from an actor who was once the heir to Deniro. Marisa Tomei puts in a great performance as well, not really as a sympathy case, but obviously as someone who has been worn down and broken. The movie itself is quite remarkable as well, drawing to mind a more realistic sort of Rocky, without all of the pomp and circumstance. As I said before, this movie was criminally snubbed at the Oscars, but I believe it will find a huge following on DVD for years to come.
elijah_matthews More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome movie. PERIOD. as a film fan anyone will enjoy, but if you are a wrestler or a fan of wrestling you will appreciate it more. it does not blanket the whole industry like other films have (BEYOND THE MAT was an insult in many a way) but it does not sugarcoat it or give it a black and white facade either. Rourke's performance can be sympathetic but at the same time the film makes it clear that he is the reaper of what he sowed in his life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son has always followed professional wrestling. He thought it was well done and shows the other side of wrestling. It is not all showtime and glamor. It's tuff when it is all over.
RobbieBobby44 More than 1 year ago
I never cared for wrestling but this show was interesting since it showed how fake some matches are, while others are absolutely nuts. But I didn't care about what happened to Rourke's character for a moment, not even when he collapsed after the staple-gun match. I mean, what do you expect when you're willing to do something that freakin' crazy? Things didn't exactly get better for him as he made an effort to reconnect with his daughter and then - whoops! - failed to keep his promise to meet her since he had to get some sleep after engaging in hardcore drug use and sex with some fireman-obsessed bimbo who owns a ferret. What a great guy, right? What a dad. I mean, he doesn't just prove to be off his rocker, he also provides concrete evidence again and again that he's a complete idiot. Even the culmination of his attempts to return to his glory days in a contest with his archrival, of course featuring his signature move, rang very hollow for me. In sum, Rourke and Tomei were excellent in their portrayals but I couldn't connect with either one of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DRH More than 1 year ago
Hey, I had to force myself to watch a movie about wrestling. Also I'm no real fan of Mickey Rourke (think, "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man"). So many people had told me this was a, "really cool movie" I finally accepted a friend's loaner DVD just to shut them up. Then I didn't take my eyes off the screen until it finished. The only slow parts of this movie are the introduced pauses used to illustrate the falsehood of professional wrestling. The slower sequences, such as in the deli, illustrate how likable the wrestler is and show that everything has some sort of worth. Rourke is fascinating. His character is truly tragic. Tomei's character is complex, and any red-blooded male would watch this just to watch her. The wrestling is just used as a stage for Rourke's hellish life. The film is shot in almost a "reality television" style, which draws you even deeper into the story, but it's the acting that really allows the suspension of disbelief. I not only started to like Rourke's character, I really felt for him. His victories are so tiny and meaningless, but you see why they matter to him. Tomei's acting is a perfect illustration of every crazy, conflicted broad you've ever known and reminds you why, in the end, you walk away from them. You're repulsed by many of the things Rourke's character does, but you understand why he does it and feel sympathy for him. This movie is up there with "Leaving Las Vegas" but probably above it because this is not a depressing movie. This movie shows how dignity can be drawn from even the shallowest, most meaningless existence and shows the hero going out with at least his own style.
NY_Reader1 More than 1 year ago
This movie sneaked up on me after I watched it. It's not one of those movies you immediately like, rather you appreciate it more afterwards. One thing that bugged me to the point of distraction: The camera was constantly behind Micky Rourke, as if the cameraman was running behind him with the camera rolling. At first, I thought it was just a device to hide Rourke's hideous surgically transformed face from the camera,but they kept it up throughout the movie. Marisa Tomei looks amazing. I have no idea if she was a good actor in the movie, but she was very naked in the movie. Thumbs up for that. Evan Rachel Wood was underused, but she is an amazing actor. I'll watch this movie several times.
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XDionysis More than 1 year ago
You've heard it by now but I'll say it again, Rourke's performance in The Wrestler pure is cinema. Support cast by both Tomei and Wood are both moving and memorable. Darren Aronofsky's Direction into a completely engrossing environment of the wrestling world gives fans and first-timers a smoke and mirror look on how ringside antics are choreographed and performed.