starring Mickey Rourke, Marissa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood
written by Robert D. Siegel
directed by Darren Aronofsky
People thought The Wrestlerwould win at least one Academy Award in 2009, but it came away without. But it certainly deserved one, I think. It is kind of a come-back movie for Mickey Rourke who hasn’t had a hit film in years. The Wrestler is a powerful, powerful human drama featuring an over-the-hill, past-his-prime practitioner of a misunderstood profession, professional wrestling. Mickey Rourke plays Randy ‘The Ram,’ a wrestling titan of the 1980s, still wrestling but struggling with his old body, lost in a world he didn’t create, scraping by in a minimum wage dead-end part time supermarket job and selling his autograph at wrestling conventions. I guess he didn’t save any money from his heyday. Incidentally Rourke, a one-time professional boxer himself, has a pretty good body for a guy his age.
Professional wrestling is very athletic, but it is entertainment, not sport. And the violence of it - even though it is carefully-reconstructed violence for a movie shoot and not to be imitated at home - made my skin crawl. More than once I had to pause the DVD and take a break.
Lots of body-builder physiques. Lots and lots of tattoos. Lots of steroids and other drugs. Lots of perfectly gratuitous violence. Lots of working class folk living in trailer parks and wearing thrift shop clothes. Lots of humanity. I kept thinking, “Professional wrestlers are people just like you and me.”
It was fascinating to see the theatrical primping of these wrestler guys. Very concerned with their physiques and decoration, their hair and costumes, their tans, etc. Imagine Charles Manson as a teenaged cheerleader. As a group a very articulate and caring community of performers.
The same is true of Randy’s friend, middle aged stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) - another misunderstood profession. I kept hoping for the two to find redemption in mutual love but the story left me unsatisfied and feeing sad for the great human pathos of it all.
The Wrestler is a must see. It’s not pretty but you can’t help but admire it.