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“The Wrestler” Review

Visionary writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s follow-up to the confusing mess that was “The Fountain” is, on paper, a rather straightforward simplistic story of a broken down man trying to deal with the realities of his trade. But beyond the surface lies a film enriched with spirit and heartbreak. Mickey Rourke, (in what is sure to be an Oscar Nominated performance) takes on the role as the fictional 80’s wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson who at one time was a big star and is now just a man far past his prime working indie circuits. A body bruised, broken and willing to take more damage. Mickey Rourke used to be a boxer and the damage he sustained to his face is put to full effect in the close-ups used to emphasize just how far one will go for the fans.

Randy has lost all of what he has because of his chosen profession. He can’t even pay to gain access to his trailer so on weekends he wrestles and weekdays he works at a grocery store. His family has left him and all he wants is the human connection that left. He treats the stripper he goes to (excellently portrayed by oscar winner Marisa Tomei) as if she’s his best friend and the kids that live around him are the nephews that he plays Nintendo with, the ones he never had. But after Randy suffers from something that forces him to retire, he tries to make amends with people he hurt, fix the mistakes he made. That includes getting into contact with his daughter (another award making performance by Evan Rachel Wood) in what pushes this movie above what it is. These emotionally intimate scenes are what makes the movie more then about a simple Wrestler, more then just a man on a life’s journey.

The script by Robert Siegel could have easily been been turned into a Rocky Balboa rip off without the craftsmanship of Aronofsky. The scenes where the wrestlers are all casually discussing their plans for the ring that night are a humorous and informative touch. The seemingly strange combination of filming with a handheld camera, using panning and tracking techniques works, giving it a real and raw vibe which is almost documentary like. You are following this man’s triumphs, his losses and his faults. You are watching a man’s life unfold in front of you. He wrestles because the fans help heal the wounds, the gaps in his life, and because of that this movie is able to go above what others in the genre have failed to succeed at.

Enough cannot be said about Mickey Rourke’s powerhouse performance. Every step, every breath and every little nuance he portrays gives life to this character and the frailties he has. Rourke himself had similar dialogue to that of the film, stepping out of the acting spotlight for years to pursue a career in boxing. In more ways then one, this is his comeback just as much as it is Randy’s.

The Wrestler is a truly brilliant film that wouldn’t of come to be without the cast and detail it has. Darren Aronofsky is used to making multi-shot sequenced films with quick edits ala “Requiem For a Dream”. This sudden change of pace in both style and focus (his attention to detail with how real those “fake” wrestlers do their jobs is brilliant) only further his credence as one of the best directors this generation. He has captured something more then a movie, something that will move you because we can see a little bit of Randy in all us and connect with that on an emotional level. Whether it be not wanting to accept the name we’re given or doing something for all the wrong reasons. We want him to succeed, to triumph, just like we want ourselves to. Likewise, Rourke and this film deserve success as well, if only because movies just aren’t made like this anymore. Here’s for a Best Actor and Best Picture Nod.

Rating: A

The Wrestler hits theaters on January 23’rd, I saw it in advance.

Written By: Kyle Bulai


One Response to ““The Wrestler” Review”

  1. Mickey Rourke’s comeback story reminds me a lot of Robert Downey Jr. for some reason

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