Sunday, January 4, 2009
Movie Review: The Wrestler
The Wrestler (2008)
Director - Darren Aronofsky
Writer - Robert D. Siegel
Runtime - 109 min
Mickey Rourke - Randy 'The Ram' Robinson
Marisa Tomei - Cassidy/Pam
Evan Rachel Wood - Stephanie Robinson
Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is long past his prime as a top professional wrestler. Living in a trailer he can barely afford, and driving a van that will barely start, his body is beaten, he is old, and he is alone. To earn money he works at a local store on weekdays taking orders from a frail, snibbly boss in a tie. Occasionally he signs autographs at local gyms, inking his once famous name to portraits of a former life, then stuffing dollar bills into a fanny pack. To kill time and spend the money he doesn't have, he hangs out at the local strip club drinking beer and fantasizing about Cassidy (Marisa Tomei ), and thinking of ways to take her away from it all. His estranged daughter hates him and tells him so.
But on weekends, The Ram still wrestles.
Director Darren Aronofsky presents to us the story of a washed up superstar who has burned many bridges and now, in the twilight of his career and life, is faced not only with his own mortality, but the prospect of a life alone.
Mickey Rourke plays "The Ram" with an entirely too real understanding of what daily life must be like for an aging star. Rourke himself has gone through tough times in his personal life, spanning a long career that started with critical success but slowly faded out, only to be brought back to mainstream culture as Marv in 2005s Sin City. He must have drawn greatly on his own life when making The Wrestler, and it comes across brilliantly.
This film is very low on the action side of things, and other than a few stunt-doubled parts and possible CGI effects, you would never know that what you are watching is a movie, and not simply a sad real life. And that is what ultimately makes this movie work so well for me, that I completely forgot I was watching actors, and sort of just drifted away into the 'real' world of these people.
Amongst the wonderful behind-the scenes shots of what it is like to wrestle in local gymnasiums and to constantly need to inject oneself with everything under the sun, the film has the ultimate reality feel at the end, bringing this sad life to the only possible conclusion.
With a strong supporting role from Evan Rachel Wood as The Ram's daughter Stephanie, and a decent performance by Tomei (and graphically sexual), Rourke is able to deliver to us a glimpse into the life of lonely person seeking something even he can no longer understand. In the end, will there be anybody left to care about The Ram, other than the small crowd of cheering and jeering fans?