Reviewed by: Steve Warburton
|Featuring:||Mickey Rourke … Randy
Marisa Tomei … Cassidy
Evan Rachel Wood … Stephanie
Mark Margolis … Lenny
Todd Barry … Wayne
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|Director:||Darren Aronofsky—“Requiem for a Dream,” “The Fountain,” “Pi”|
|Producer:||Protozoa Pictures, Saturn Films, Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel, Mark Heyman, Vincent Maraval, Agnès Mentre, Jennifer Roth|
|Distributor:||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
“Love. Pain. Glory.”
In his novel Timequake, the late Kurt Vonnegut tells of the late jazz musician Fats Waller who, when he was in the throes of a brilliant performance, was prone to yell: “Somebody shoot me while I'm happy.”
Hey! Wouldn't you like to die while doing what you love most?
“The Wrestler” tells the story of Randy “the Ram” Robinson, a pro wrestler who, in his younger days, was at the top of his game. He headlined at major events that filled arena, I guess he was a kind of Hulk Hogan. Now, 20 years later, he's barely making a living on the independent circuit. His modern matches don't take place in Madison Square Gardens. Instead, it looks like they play in elementary school gymnasiums or American Legion halls.
To be sure, Randy is down on his luck. He lives in a trailer, and he occasionally has difficulty paying his rent. He drives a broken down van and earns his living doing menial jobs at a supermarket. He's in love with a stripper at a local strip club, and he has an estranged daughter from whom he desperately wants forgiveness.
There's a scene somewhere near the film's halfway point where Randy lets his guard down and engages in an evening of drugs and fornicating. The consequence he pays for such an action are devastating to him. I appreciated that, actually, and I also appreciated hearing a stripper quote from the book of Isaiah and wax eloquently about “The Passion of the Christ.”
The stripper, incidentally, is played by Marisa Tomei, who does a number of nude scenes in the film. If you're a Christian, that will probably offend you. The language is realistic and profane.
And since it's a movie about wrestling, there is some violence, but the violence is all confined to the ring. Yes, it's fake, and it's fun to see these wrestlers hang out and hug each other just minutes before they enter the ring as “arch enemies.” I'm sure that's what life is like in the real wrestling world.
By the way, “The Wrestler” ends perfectly. There is no contrived Hollywood ending. It's a story about a man who looks for redemption but doesn't quite find it. Unfortunately, that's the sad reality for most.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.