EIMER DEBRIS NOTE: Since I don't get out to the movies that much (I rent them from Netflix), my buddy Mac wrote a great review of Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler:
If you read the latest articles on Mickey Rourke these days you’re probably thinking that his new movie The Wrestler is his comeback movie. The movie that will save his career. Yes, it’s true he’s already won a Golden Globe and scored his first ever kiss from the Oscars this year with a nomination, but don’t think that Mickey Rourke hasn’t been in anything good the last few years. I personally thought more people should’ve been talking about him back in 2005 for his performance in Sin City.
NO MATTER. Because The Wrestler is my movie of the year (yes, I’ve seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Rourke gives a performance with more balls and blood than anyone else came close to this year. And there have been some good performances this year, too.
I think if you take any famous Professional Wrestler from the 80’s, I don’t care if it’s Macho Man, Mr. Wonderful, or Jake the Snake, I bet my Wrestlemania Videos that their life parallels the one portrayed by Rourke. Watching the opening credits filled with Pro Wrestling headlines and sideline commentary from the 1980’s talking about the main character Randy “The Ram” Robinson, you don’t feel like you’re watching a Darren Aronofsky film.
But Mickey Rourke said it best in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes: ‘A director as great as Darren Aronofsky only comes around once every twenty or thirty years’. That’s Goddamn right. The movie he has made has all the grit and grain and that quasi-documentary feel you see in movies from the 70’s. And a clear departure from his previous movie ‘The Fountain’. This is a harsh portrait of a man knocked down and savagely beaten by his own industry. An industry where many people don’t use their real name. This truth could be said about many lines of work. However, professional wrestling looks like it would be fun for a while, but doesn’t look like one with a quality 401k or health benefits.
Randy struggles with getting old in an industry that’s not too kind to those who age. He barely gets by in life. He wrestles in a local minor league circuit and puts in as many hours working at the market as long as is doesn’t interfere with his wrestling. He spends his money on painkillers, tanning beds and hair salons, items that would be considered job expenses for wrestlers but Randy’s days of having an expense report are left in the 1980’s. He’s still well known and liked a lot in the locker room and by die-hard fans who show up autographs. But, after one of his matches, Randy ends up in the hospital and gets open heart surgery. The doctor explains to him that people who have heart attacks and have surgery cannot continue to be a professional wrestler.
Walking that close with death leaves a lonely taste in Randy’s mouth. He feels the urge to ask out Cassady, his favorite stripper who works in a club he hangs out in. Marisa Tomei is probably the most underwritten about actress of the past few years and she’s got a shot this year at winning her second oscar for her role as Pam. I don’t know if actresses like playing a stripper on not but I can’t believe it’s easy for them to do. To be able to pull it off with the kind of moves and mannerisms that shows a real woman working in a weird and bizarre industry like stripping, is quite impressive. Hat's off to Marisa Tomei.
In the club, Cassady has a soft spot in her heart for Randy her most protective customer. She knows he works in a weird and bizarre industry too. Outside the club Randy tells her about his heart attack and his fear being alone. She urges him to try to salvage a broken relationship with his daughter and agrees to help him shop for a birthday present.
Randy’s life after wrestling has a glimmer of hope. He’s able to get his feelings across to his angry daughter and is able to get Pam to have a beer with him. But things happen and Randy’s old ways are haunting him and he can only go back to his only family he’s ever known. The family the cheers for him when he bleeds.
The film ends with a twenty year reunion wrestling match between The Ram and his arch enemy from the 80’s The Ayatollah. The final scene in the movie strikes the hell out of you when Randy rises on top ropes and at that moment you realize two things: One, a new respect for the men who work in that crazy industry and the true punishment they endure playing in a fake sport. And two: Mickey Rourke deserves the Oscar.
Milan A. Cargould
Thanks for the review Mac. Can't wait to see it.