Nicholas Cage? Bruce Willis? Wrong. Never would have worked. No one
else could have played Randy "The Ram" Robinson with the compassion and
energy he brings to the role--it's painful to see the fading
professional wrestler coming to terms with both his mortality and the
emptiness of his life outside the ring, and this is largely due to
Rourke's excellent acting. Twenty years after the defining match of his
career, Randy is still a fan favorite and loving his work--until he
suffers a heart attack. The film follows the gentle giant as he tries
to adjust to living without wrestling, reconnect with his estranged
daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), and kindle a bond with a friend who works
in a strip club (Marisa Tomei).
This isn't just a film about professional wrestling, but Aronofsky gets that part right. He does a beautiful job showing the sport with realism without mocking it: he highlights the humor, but never makes fun of it. He doesn't just deconstruct the mythical image of wrestlers' performances, but he also destroys their apparent rage towards each other. It's clear that these guys are friends--they care about and respect each other. These other wrestlers in the film are all played by professionals, and they do a great job with the acting. The film respects them and their world, and demands the same from the audience.
The other supporting characters are strong as well. Tomei and Wood's characters could easily have fallen into clichés, but they give Randy some of his best moments on screen. Tomei's storyline, especially, serves as a nice parallel and contrast to Randy's. Wood's could use a little more juice, but her story arc does the same. Both are effective.
Another notable aspect of the film is its music. The character of Randy is a big '80s rock fan, and for the film, they got the rights to use Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine." A special thanks at the end of the film went out to Axl Rose. On the softer side, Bruce Springsteen wrote "The Wrestler" for the credits, and its sweet melancholy serves as the perfect coda for the film.
Overall, 'The Wrestler' is great. It's a rich, round film that smoothly weaves together pathos and comedy and soul. It's funny and dramatic, tear-jerking and tough. Definitely a must-see this winter.
Action / Drama / Sport
Action / Drama / Sport
This is a drama about an aging professional wrestler, decades past his prime, who now barely gets by working small wrestling shows in VFW halls and as a part-time grocery store employee. As he faces health problems that may end his wrestling career for good he attempts to come to terms with his life outside the ring: by working full time at the grocery store, trying to reconcile with the daughter he abandoned in childhood and forming a closer bond with a stripper he has romantic feelings for. He struggles with his new life and an offer of a high-profile rematch with his 1980s arch-nemesis, The Ayatollah, which may be his ticket back to stardom.
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August 14, 2011 at 05:32 PM