The Wrestler

by

Director – Darren Aronofsky

Writer – Robert D. Siegel

Starring – Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Synopsis

Back in the late ’80s, Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a headlining professional wrestler. Now, twenty years later, he ekes out a living performing for handfuls of diehard wrestling fans in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey.

Estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and unable to sustain any real relationships, Randy lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans. However, a heart attack forces him into retirement. As his sense of identity starts to slip away, he begins to evaluate the state of his life — trying to reconnect with his daughter, and striking up a blossoming romance with an exotic dancer (Marisa Tomei) who is ready to start a new life. Yet all this cannot compare to the allure of the ring and passion for his art, which threatens to pull Randy “The Ram” back into his world of wrestling.

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Review

I was eager to see Darren Aronofsky’s most recent release, after enjoying his racey breakout movie: Requim for a Dream. Also, The Wreslter looked more down to earth than The Fountain; which I missed, due to logistics – “Really, really bad” – Douglas Bubbletrousers, News of the World. So I set off, in search of a contender for the new ‘Film of the Month’ section of my blog (should I choose to do it).

After struggling to get involved for the first 10 minutes, the score arrived and I finally settled down for some hardcore watching. The script was pleasing. It didn’t try to do too much; choosing entertaining dialogue to snigger at (watch the spelling Davis!) over one-liners and set pieces. Though the screenplay was solid throughout, I do think it focussed on the wrestling over, what I thought was the more interesting side of the story, Randy’s relationship with his daughter.

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We are allowed two scenes of this “broken down piece of meat” coming to terms with what his lifestyle has done to the father/daughter relationship and what the daughter has to say about it; I don’t think the film ever really knew what side of Randy’s story to focus on: broken down wrestler; broken down dad or lonely ageing single guy. Aronofsky tries to take a slice of each one, which was just a bit too much for me to stomach.

On the positive side, all the actors held their own with a plus performance from Mickey Rourke. The scandal around Rourke’s performance made me unsure of whether I was appreciating it correctly but in hindsight Rourke nailed the character and gave him the “down-but-not-out” mentality that Randy deserved. Where realism is concerned, the casting choice for Marisa Tomei was a poor one. When the extras in the film are telling her how old and disgusting she is, whilst she strips, and the entirety of the male audience is praying not to get a boner – you know something’s up.

Handheld cameras were used for a lot of the film, for realism, I guess. This lost me a little with the inevitable jitters disrupting my viewing pleasure. Other than that, the shot selection was nice; with the final shot being the masterball of all shots – capturing you without fail.

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Overall – It’s a success, but lacks the mysterious magic ingredient that would make it a film to love.

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