Jake Alda Coffey’s review published on Letterboxd:
I keep a list of Oscar wins and losses that have upset me throughout the years. Number 1 is definitely Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love for best picture (probably one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history; thanks a lot Harvey Weinstein 🙄). Number 2 is when Viola Davis lost to Meryl Streep for best actress in the 2012 ceremony. But a close third would be Mickey Rourke for for his performance in this movie losing to Sean Penn for best actor. Don’t get me wrong, Sean Penn gave a great performance in Milk, but Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler was something unseen. Never once did it feel like I was watching an actor putting on a performance. With Penn in Milk, it felt more performative. You don’t feel that with any performance in The Wrestler.
I’ve oddly been watching a lot of movies lately where there’s a complicated parent/child relationship. And that’s no different here in The Wrestler. Wrestling has consumed The Ram’s life, often causing him to never really be a good father to his daughter, causing her to resent him most of his life. But now, as his wrestling days are coming to a close, he tries to bury old hatchets with her and try to be a dad that she wanted him to be. And THAT seen Rourke has with Evan Rachel Wood in the third act is always so heartbreaking to watch. It’s always hard to balance the different things you love. You often focus on one thing more than the other. And in this case, Randy “The Ram” focused more on his love for wrestling than he did his own daughter. But he soon realizes this when he leaves the sport, and wants to make amends by it.
I can’t even really put in the proper words on how this film makes me feel. It’s weird, I hate wrestling. So it’s funny to me how one of my favorite movies involves wrestling. I won’t say it’s about wrestling, because it really isn’t. It’s about a guy, who just so happens to be a wrestler, try to find himself at an age where everything begins to fade away.