Lovestruck: Wrestling's Number 1 Fan
R0 - Australia - Accent
Review written by and copyright: Stevie McCleary and Noor Razzak (14th April 2008).
The Film

"Lovestruck: Wrestling’s No. 1 Fan" is the story of Sue Chuter, a middle-aged Australian woman living in Melbourne, who has had a lifelong obsession with Sports-Entertainment. The documentary was ten years in the making and features appearances from quite a few wrestlers throughout. As a wrestling fan myself I was very intrigued about watching the documentary. During the viewing, however, I found myself stopping every couple of minutes to discuss what had just taken place. Indeed this independent (read: rough) doco contains many a “Wait…what?” moment. Unfortunately it’s not always in the good way.

Through the eyes (and mouth…she never shuts up. Not a good first move for a doco maker) of Sue’s close friend, Megan Spencer, we are witness to portions of Sue’s entire life. Her introduction to wrestling as a WCW show passed through Australia in the 1960's, her closeness with fans and wrestlers of today, the inside of her house that is covered (literally) with photos of wrestlers, her reunion with her estranged daughter and much more.

We even get to see Sue meeting up with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler as he gives her one of his Slammy Awards (don’t ask). Jerry brings up an interesting point though, the first of many that went through my mind. When the filmmaker says she’s been making the film for six years, Jerry responds, “Wow…you’re going to have a lot of footage to use.” This begs an obvious question-this doco clocks in at 52 minutes. Where is the rest? The extras are listed at 170 minutes and feature quite a few interesting moments…better than what was chosen for the film. Simply put, there are many dubious choices taken here. The length of the film is the first, as it is painfully obvious that Sue is a fascinating (read: borderline “special”) individual and has many stories to tell about her life…and 52 minutes could never hope to cover everything well.

Which leads to the next big problem; what it does cover, it doesn’t cover well. It is all too obvious that the filmmaker knows Sue really well, as she makes two fatal mistakes: she knows Sue’s history really well so she doesn’t really grasp what the audience doesn’t, and every time an interesting (read: controversial) topic comes up we move right along. The subject of Sue being raped comes up long enough for her to be cut off with Megan saying “Everyone watching this will feel quite sorry for you.” Not if we don’t get to hear the story. Sue then gives an explanation on why you shouldn’t feel sorry for her that I could not do justice to here. It’s truly bizarre.

Certain other events appear to be shot out of order and, coming back to the ‘information the audience would like to know’, the doco spends 30 minutes detailing Sue’s reunion with her daughter and it’s quite touching. But right when the daughter offers up a hint of why she actually sought out her mother, that’s the only time we hear of it. And after sitting through their teary re-connection and all these big stories about how nothing will ever split them apart (remember, this is half the doco) we get some text on the screen stating that ‘in the three years since this footage was taken, Sue and her daughter are estranged again.’ Okay. Now why aren’t you telling us why? After all the effort that went into watching them together again…it’s so frustrating. This type of thing happens all throughout.

Did I mention that Sue is a giant "ring rat" (wrestling lingo for ‘groupie’…a derogatory term for those who follow the action only to get some of their own) and that she considers it her duty to ‘satisfy’ the men because otherwise they won’t be able to put on a good show? Because the doco only casually drifts over this about 25 minutes in and it is a huge part of her life. It is obvious that this is what she considers her ‘purpose’. And so after the doco finished I felt greatly unsatisfied. And as I’ve learnt; if I’m not satisfied, I can’t perform well. So I tracked down more information on Ms. Chuter. Thanks to my Aussie wrestler connections I had dozens of stories in front of me, all more interesting than the doco ones. And most I couldn’t possibly share here. But let’s just say…for example…one story that comes straight from Sue’s mouth (ugh…I’ll regret phrasing it that way). Iranian wrestling performer The Iron Sheik was in need of ‘satisfying’ one night…and despite Sue’s best efforts (even while also reading some encouraging material) his Sheik never made it to Iron. I guess it’s hard to master a foreign tongue. Anyhoo, Ms. Chuter is more than happy to share this story (for some reason) to anyone that visits her house. The Rolling Stones be damned, I’d be happy if I couldn’t ‘get no’. But to Sue, these encounters are a badge of honour. Of a life that she claims she wouldn’t change much of and is almost entirely pleased with. At least Sue got a happy ending.

That story I just told is not in "Lovestruck", sadly. And it should have been, along with a ton of other fascinating events that are referenced but never fully realised. Sue is a unique individual who does warrant a doco to chronicle her adventures; it’s just a shame that this is it. It is worth checking out, if only to decide whether you’d like to know more. It’s easy enough to find, believe me.

It all smacks of wasted potential. If a gifted filmmaker who didn’t know Sue, and wasn’t afraid to chase some interesting stories, made this we would have had a classic on our hands. As it is we have something that is the equivalent of a home movie. So close to great and so far away from good.

Video

Presented in full screen 1.33:1 this transfer is very rough, shot on miniDV (I assume) the footage is shaky at times, the image quality lacks depth and looks like it was shot by a novice. The footage has some pixelation, compression problems include moire effect against patterned lines. This should have 'home video' plastered all over it.

Audio

A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is included, this documentary is largely dialogue based so nothing too complex is required here. This stereo track does the trick and presents the dialogue clearly and without any distortion, although depth and range is sacrificed it's not big deal.
There are no optional subtitles available for this film.

Extras

Accent has packed this release with a lot of extras that includes 2 audio commentaries, a short film, an interview, additional footage, plus the original score. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary with the film's director Megan Spencer and sound producer Emma Bortignon. It’s more of an interview with Emma, rather than discussion of the feature. The two discuss their College life and her subsequent life as a sound designer. They talk about Sue and how they were overly protective of her during shooting, deliberately leaving things out on purpose, and how Megan felt she shouldn’t be filming certain parts of her life. It serves to further highlight how a much better the documentary would have been made by someone less close to Sue.

There's a second feature-length audio commentary with the film's director Megan Spencer and the subject of the film Sue Chuter. They discuss how they met years ago when Megan was working in a hi-fi store. Sue goes into further detail here as well about how she got into wrestling for the first time. Also expands on her connection to Lawler, disbelief over the Benoit killings, and the job that financed her wrestling obsession for 26 years. There's good expansion on some of the areas the documentary fails to cover.

Next up is a short film entitled "Film Wrestling" by Andy Nehl which runs for 20 minutes 12 seconds, directed in 1986 while Nehl (producer of “The Chaser’s War on Everything” (2006-2007)) was still studying film production at Sydney’s University of Technology, it is a student ‘protest’ movie highlighting his trouble with trying to get government funding for an independent feature (the main character ‘wrestles’ with a film reel while trying to explain to a committee why he should get money to make a film on ID cards). The copy presented her is a rough cut that is also a forth generation video dub. Despite its visual quality it is an amusing and entertaining student short.

"Festival Hall Film Archive" is 20 minutes 10 seconds of footage filmed by the late Vern Sundfors, who worked with Sue for 20 years, it contains wrestling footage from two matches from 1968. The footage is silent and was donated to Megan shortly before he passed.

Following that is a Kurt von Schneider interview that runs for 9 minutes 48 seconds. Taken in 1997 they discuss how he met Sue in 1983, his wrestling history, how he found the lifestyle, and his choice of finishers. He’s a well-spoken individual who also gave Sue away at her wedding.

There's also some additional footage which includes:

- "Sue Goes Psycho" runs for 3 minutes 4 seconds. Video of Sue in the crowd at a show cheering on wrestler ‘Psycho Kid’. Also features two quick interviews with fans from the crowd after the show.
- "Home Video Lesson" runs for 3 minutes 43 seconds, extended version of the end credits with Megan showing Sue how to operate a video camera.
- "The Wrassling Queen of Georgia" runs for 1 minute, Sue being filmed, in Georgia, raking leaves in a driveway.
- "The Top of Chris Candido’s Head" runs for 29 seconds, The late Chris Candido signs an autograph.
- "Sue Gets a Tattoo" runs for 5 minutes 44 seconds, Sue goes to the tattoo parlour to get some writing done around one of her pre-existing tattoos. She also talks at length about how America is a much better country than Australia.
- "Sue Gets 'Dropped' in the Ring" runs for 1 minute 43 seconds, Sue proposes marriage in the ring to an Australian wrestler, and promptly gets downed by his finishing move.
- "More Oz Wrestling" runs for 1 minute 20 seconds, a short look at random parts of a battle royal match set to music.
- "Minnie the Dog" runs for 20 seconds, Sue’s dog yapping at her feet.
- "Sue Gets her Tee Shirt Ripped" runs for 2 minutes 8 seconds, Sue interferes in an Australian wrestling interview and rips off her anti-Psycho Kid shirt to show one that supports him.
- "The ‘Sheet Match’" runs for 1 minute 56 seconds, a wrestler (being filmed by Sue) is cutting a promo in front of a sheet (serving as a backdrop) and he gets attacked by his next opponent.
- "Sue Meets Goldberg" runs for 2 minutes, at a fan signing, Sue is in a packed crowd waiting for an autograph from Bill Goldberg, which she then gets.

Rounding out the extras is the "Lovestruck" original score, independent of the film you can listen to all eight pieces of music separately.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: C- Audio: B- Extras: B Overall: C+

 


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