The Wrestler is a Powerful Drama of a Man Facing His Own Mortality
The Wrestler (2008): Rated “PG-13“ (1 hours, 38 minutes)
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Mickey Rourke
Back in ‘08, Mickey Rourke who, after having a critically-acclaimed early acting career was — by all accounts — all but completely washed up as an actor, was cast (ironically enough) as an all-but washed up wrestler who was — oh so desperately — attempting to hang onto a wrestling career that he sees as slipping away from him. Well, in case you were asleep through the post ‘08 awards season, the role essentially resurrected his stature in the eyes of Hollywoodland, and put him back on the map.
The Wrestler [Blu-ray]
Yes, Wrestlers are Professionals
As stated, the compelling drama is about an aging professional wrestler named Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Rourke), who is several years past his prime, and now he just barely ekes out a living by scoring work at much smaller wrestling shows, selling videos, DVDs, and photo-ops in VFW halls around the countryside. As his wrestling gigs have shrunk in stature he and he is forced to take a part-time job in a local grocery store. As he faces a growing health problem that may end his wrestling career for good he begins to take stock of his life and starts to deal with his real life, outside the ring.
The Wrestler - Official Trailer
One of the parts of his life that he is attempting to reconcile with is attempting to reconnect with the daughter, Stephanie, (Wood) that he abandoned in her childhood. Seems that Randy was not the best dad ever (surprise, surprise), and all but totally neglected his parental duties, something that Stephanie apparently grew up resenting (again, a “surprise”), so now that he sees himself at the end of the line, he is doing what he can (badly — a gain a surprise) to do what he can to bridge the unbridgeable. On another front, he is also attempting to not just hook up with a stripper, Cassidy (Tomei) that he has been frequenting at a local club, but form a deeper, more-personal, shall we say intimate, relationship with her. As it can be expected (given the way everything else is going on in Randy’s life) it turns out, the while Randy has romantic feelings for Cassidy (who has a kid, which Randy didn’t know), he has — in fact — over-estimated her attraction and desire to have an interpersonal relationship for him while she is not at work (and, you know, earning tips).
Swan Diving From the Ropes
The Set Up
Meanwhile, as Randy struggles with his new life choices, as well as a growing health-related issue (which is, in actuality, the underlying cause for much of his desire to alter his previously-existing lifestyle, he has been offered a high-profile 20th anniversary rematch with his 1980s arch-nemesis, The Ayatollah (Ernest Miller), which Randy (and his manager) believes just may be his ticket back to stardom. Initially Randy agrees to the rematch, but passes on the rematch when he is advised of his declining health, only to change his mind when he sees the current state of his life.
A Man Facing The Future
A Most Powerful Role
Arguably, this is Rourke’s most powerful role, as he was not only nominated for an Academy Award but both Rourke and the film itself received a boatload of nominations, awards, and critical acclaim; further, it allowed the suits in Hollywood to once again see him as a viable and bankable star (leading to his role as Whiplash in Iron Man 2). The film itself is brutally honest about how we age vs. how we perceive ourselves. Then, it delves into how we choose to deal with that reality as it unfolds before us. It is always difficult to come to grips with our own mortality, our own mistakes, misdeeds, and bad impulses.
A Man and ins Woman
A Film Worth Seeing
The route that Randy takes to make amends for his past are unfortunately too little too late, and unfortunately he falls far short of what would be required to successfully achieve the absolution he so desperately seeks. Needless to say that still doesn’t stop him from attempting to do so, even though he becomes well aware of how things will ultimately turn out. If you never got to see The Wrestler when it came out, you really do owe it to yourself to seek it out and watch it now, if only to watch a masterful performance, beautifully executed.
The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd.
© 2016 Robert J Sodaro