Owen’s review published on Letterboxd:
A dizzying, devastating masterpiece. Possibly Aronofsky's finest work to date and one of the most emotionally stirring movies I've had the pleasure of watching. The Wrestler is a somber look into the life of a man who has given up everything in his life for wrestling and is forced to grapple with those decisions after a heart attack reaffirms that his body is no longer able to handle the damaging effects the sport has on the body. It's painful watching Mickey Rourke (in one of the greatest performances I've ever seen) attempt to repair his relationships and come to terms with his mortality in effortlessly tragic fashion, and the sad truth is that we can see where this story is going from very early on.
Now one could say that this drags the movie down, but in reality the predictability only adds to the experience. Rourke's character is self-destructive from the start of the film, and the viewer is made painfully clear that he's nothing without the sport, which is why it's even more sad to watch him attempt to make a life for himself outside of the ring, despite the chances of him succeeding being slim to none. It's far from a hopeless film, however, and the moments of humanity on display are just so raw which makes the story even more heartbreaking.
The ambiguous ending isn't given to the viewer as a game of "what if?" like Inception because let's be honest, everybody who's seen this film knows what inevitably happens after that gut-wrenching final shot. But Aronofsky calculates his narrative in increasingly beautiful ways so that the viewer is able to feel the towering weight crashing down upon them in the form of a flood of tears. This review from Jack explains everything that makes the ending so perfect.