Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel
Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Official Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thewrestler/
Opening Day: 12 February 2009
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.
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 strikes up a
blossoming romance with an aging stripper (Marisa Tomei).
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.
Pro wrestling has always been a fascinating sport. It’s well known that everything’s fake and rehearsed in wrestling but the fans just keep coming back for more. The drama in brutality is often more engaging that those arty farty stage plays (well at least for the average joe) and the athleticism of the wrestler doing the high flying slams are simply breathtaking.
On the flipside, professional wrestlers are also known for substance abuse and in recent years, two prominent wrestlers had lost their life due to the drugs that enable them to perform at the top of their game. Sadly one even killed his family in the moment of rage.
Such turmoil drama in the wrestling realm are magnificently captured and presented by Darren Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke. Their "The Wrestler" chose to follow the exploits of a professional wrestler (Randy 'The Ram' Robinson) who has been out of the prime spotlight in the wrestling world for a long time.
This film gave insights to the tricks that the wrestlers pull in the ring to get the audience fire up. It also presented the unexpected camaraderie and partnership between supposedly rivals that’s endearing and comical (especially to those who are so used to their rival antics in front of the camera).
The Wrestler also explores the measure of one’s passion for his career and how much is needed to be sacrificed to be in this line of business (or even in any other entertainment business). This movie also presented the possibility of how a person’s innate nature (to mess things up or to simply entertain) would rise at the most unexpected moments. In a way, The Wrestler paints a poetic picture of identifying with one true self and living the life that he or she is passionate about.
However while there are those moments (mention above) that really shined for The Wrestler, it’s not exactly a mainstream Hollywood flick for those mainstream audience. The Wrestler is a low budget movie and it really looked like it on the big screen, grainy and not exactly well lighted as one would assume from those normal mainstream flick. (However I have to note that Low Budget film do have it’s own type of magic and charm to bind creative people to come together for free to work on such project. One of the trivial and interesting information to note would be that Axl Rose allowed the film makers to use his song without charging them any money for it).
The movie also took the slow and mundane route to present the issues that Ram is facing. Even though the film was constantly showing new elements that define Ram’s career, love and life, it could get a bit tedious and plain o’ ordinary that could test the patience of some viewers while putting some others to sleep (there’s already one MX reviewer who confessed that it was very difficult to sit through the show).
In closing, The Wrestler left a memorable mark in the long history of films, largely due to the capable direction of Darren Aronofsky and the wonderful performance (that strangely parallels the real life of) Mickey Rourke. A lot had been said about Mickey Rourke’s strong performance in earlier reviews and I shall not rethread them, except to reaffirm that those praises are true and he is indeed a strong contender for this year Oscar Best Actor.
(A bleak unflinching, albeit mundane look into the flipside of professional wrestling)
Review by Richard Lim Jr