The Wrestler

2009-02-25 11:24
The Wrestler

What it's about:

Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is a professional wrestler with his golden years long behind him. He barely gets by moonlighting on the independent wrestling circuit and working as a supermarket clerk during the day. As his body struggles to keep up with the physical demands of the game, he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) and start a new life with his favourite stripper, Cassidy (Marisa Tomei).

What we thought of it:

If it’s a lonely road to the top, it’s even lonelier on the way back down.

Darren Aronofsky’s film is an emotionally desolate place. Mickey Rourke is at its centre, and as the ageing Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a has-been wrestler, he completes his own glorious comeback to the acting limelight.

While it is interesting to put Rourke: the actor, and Robinson: the wrestler, side by side to compare their decline (Rourke quit acting for boxing in the 90s after a pile-up of personal troubles), The Wrestler has enough to commend it as a stand-alone story.

We meet Robinson at the twilight of his career. After a horrific stunt in the ring (in which his body is repeatedly punctured by a staple gun), he suffers a heart attack and is told by his doctor never to wrestle again. With a crummy day job and a rickety old trailer left to him, he finds life without wrestling incredibly hard.

Maybe because he’s been a fighter, maybe because he’s been down and out in his career, Rourke finds wells and wells of gravitas and loneliness to draw on for his role. It’s not as easy as it seems to play a simple man, at least not in an interesting way. But Randy Robinson fumbles believably, painfully, through 'ordinary' life as the simplicity of wrestling deserts him.

Marisa Tomei is alluring as his pal, a stripper by the stage name of Cassidy. While perhaps a little lightweight for an Oscar nom, her performance is an important one as Randy’s only real sympathiser and helps us to understand him better.

The Wrestler asks tough questions of when, if ever, that one thing that gives meaning to a person’s life should be given up. It is sobering as a story, but even more so as a meditation on one of our greatest fears: life without options.

Mickey Rourke fights his way back form the brink - literally - in this bruising drama about a washed up, lonely wrestler.

Sad Reminder 2009/02/20 14:31
When are we going to get to see movies that don't actually retell the American dream over and over again. Have we not had enough of that reterick that we only have the option to watch a movie of how the American Dream makes you great and then takes you all the way down as well. And don't forget about all the personal guilt you accumulate along the way, that's the important audience connect tear jerker. Whooppee!! Been there, Seen that - lets all move on!
Adrian 2009/02/20 15:49
I agree. By the way "reterick" is actually spelt "rhetoric"
JK 2009/02/20 16:24
I don’t think Aronofsky belabours the point of an "American Dream" that much. Yes, The Ram is adorned with the US flag and is seen as an American hero, but really – someone like him who at the twilight of his career has nothing to hold onto, isn’t his patriotism the safest thing to attach himself to? And if anything, the movie shows just how hollow and spiritless the American Dream really is. It has no time for failures – and that’s the great tragedy of this story. I think The Wrestler offers a much more personal and singular perspective of one man’s journey to redemption. It’s so raw, I found it very difficult to watch in some scenes. Incredible performance by Rourke. Rooting for him at the Oscars.
Spindle 2009/02/26 14:08
Come on guys, American Dream, really? To me, this was much more about loneliness, about what constitutes your identity, even just about age. American Dream? side issue. great film.
preshen govender 2009/03/05 16:24
It take a lot of talent to fake beat up a person ,my hate off to him
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