The Wrestler (2008)

The Wrestler is the latest movie directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood.

Plot:
Randy “The Ram” Robinson [Mickey Rourke] is an ageing wrestler, who left his glory days behind him and now makes a living by appearing in school gyms on weekends. The only person he confides in is the stripper Cassidy [Marisa Tomei]. When Randy has an heart attack, he tries to steer his life around.

The Wrestler is a sensitive portrayal of a broken existence, of a man who has made many mistakes in his life and knows it, but he still cannot escape himself.

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If you put Darren Aronofsky’s films next to each other, it’s hard to believe that the same man made them. And The Wrestler is no exception. He  again redefined himself as an director. There’s nothing of The Fountain‘s ethereal beauty or Requiem for a Dream‘s surreality in The Wrestler. There’s grit, real life and blood.  

He uses a lot of hand camera, which I usually hate, but in this case it didn’t bother me. Maryse Alberti‘s cinematography in general was great.

I was surprised at the explicity of the movie. I guess I’m still not used to American films using European/Asian standards. Almost. Apart from Marisa Tomei’s costumes being surprisingly revealing (again, for an American movie, not for any other standards), the scenes in the ring were gruesome. Especially the one with the uhm… I guess the right word would be props. I actually grabbed my seat a couple of times…

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A lot has been said about the acting performances. Mickey Rourke definitely was amazing. I still don’t understand why he didn’t get the Oscar. Honestly, he’s usually not that good an actor and that was probably the only chance he will ever have to get one. [Just shows again what an incestuous thing the Oscars are.]

Anyway, his portrayal of Randy was honest and heart-felt. We know exactly who Randy is and what had to happen in his life for him to get there. And his ultimate decision doesn’t come as a surprise. And exactly because of that, it hurts even more.

Marisa Tomei gave a stellar performance as Cassidy, giving depth to a character that could easily be a stereotype. Evan Rachel Wood is also amazingly talented. Why she’s no big box office star is beyond me. She’s got the looks, she’s got the talent.

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The look behind the scene of the wrestling world was also fascinating. I remember when I was a kid and I used to watch matches with my brother (Anyone remember Bret “The Hitman” Hart or The Undertaker? And what was the Clown’s name?). Anyhow, it was intersting to get a look backstage and at the gruesome details of the shows, counterbalanced by the warm family-like behaviour of the wrestlers themselves. I haven’t watched a Wrestling match in years and I sure as hell don’t want to now, but I have even more respect for this profession now.

There’s nothing I could find at fault with this movie. I was completely entranced and I recommend it to everyone.

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