The Critic – The Wrestler

It’s no secret that I love wrestling, but it came to a surprise to Justin when I told him that I had not see Mickey Rourke’s movie The Wrestler, so what did he do? He lent it to me like the kind man that he is. It’s taken me far to long to get to this review so, as I don’t have anything witty to say about comics this week here we go for my review of The Wrestler.

The Wrestler is the story of a, you guessed it, wrestler named Randy “The Ram” Robinson who is far past his prime in the business, yet that isn’t the worst part about his life. He has lost the sense of who he is as a person. Once The Ram was a big star in the pro wrestling world but now he goes from independent promotion to independent promotion doing shows for far less than he can actually live with. He pushes himself at every show to try to capture and become once again the icon he was, and he finally finds what could be his big chance. A local promoter wants to reschedule the most iconic match of his career and of course he accepts it, then one night after one show he suffers a heart attack and has to cancel the match between him and his one time arch rival. He gets a job at a local deli to earn some extra cash and seems to be settling down in a life outside the ring. He is working on creating a relationship with his daughter that never was there and he attempts many times to try to convince a local stripper to settle down with him. Things seem to be coming to a good end for him and he seems to have figured life out. But suddenly and quickly life goes down hill again and he decides he has nothing to lose and says yes once more to the match. Randy is forced to weigh his mortality against hearing the roar of the crowd one last time.

This was a very powerful, well written, beautifully acted character study of a man. Not of a wrestle, this movie is the story of a man and how he gets through his life with all the twists and turns it throws at him and how he tries to fix things he once thought where irreparably damaged. To me the most heart felt part of this movie were the scenes with Randy and his daughter. The transformation that took place with their relationship and the roller coaster of emotion that had me, at the end of that part of the story, almost in tears. When I first watched The Wrestler I didn’t really understand why there was the storyline with the stripper, it didn’t make sense to me but it worked in the story. I just recently read Chris Jericho’s A Lion’s Tale and he talks about how well wrestlers and strippers get a long, he says that they are both people pretending to be something that they aren’t for the most part, they are both there to put on a show and entertain, but 9 times out of 10 that’s not who they really are. After reading that and rewatching The Wrestler that story made much more sense and I understood the dynamic behind it.

A lot of the time, for me, movies tha are really shaky in their filming style bother me, but the way that this movie did it really worked, it seemed almost like a documentary of Randy “The Ram” Robinson rather than a movie, and I think that was its biggest success for me. Now that I think about it, this movie was a lot like a “Where are they now?” segment on some shows, they follow The Ram around for a few months and learn about what has happened to him since he left superstardom.

Like I mentioned earlier there were some moments that I really enjoyed in this, ones that just really seemed to work, there was the scenes with his daughter and then, once I’d learned more about it, the scene’s with Cassidy (the stripper). For me I think a really big scene that was important in the movie and also enhanced my enjoyment of the movie was when you start to see Randy come out as a person at the deli, he starts to enjoy what he is doing. Randy seems to finally be enjoying life outside wrestling and it shows that he found something that he REALLY enjoys doing, he starts interacting with costumers well and is just all around pleasant to talk to. These scene was important in that it showed that he didn’t need wrestling, it was the only thing he could do like he previously believed it was, it was also effective, at least for me, because it showed this massive star, a man people certainly respected at one point or another, as an everyday man and I think that is something wrestling fans don’t realize far too often, wrestlers are just people like us.

Rourke’s performance was spot on, he really is one of the best character actors in of our time and I think without him there would not be as many great movies like this. There wasn’t a ton of music in this, for a  lot of the time the movie was pretty silent music wise and for this movie it did kind of bother me but not to the extent it does in other movies. Aronofsky did a fantastic job directing a marvelous movie written by Robert D. Siegel and it spoke to me, and many others, on so many different levels and let us see into the life of a once massive star. As a wrestling fan I really appreciate seeing a very plausible life story of someone who could have once been my favourite wrestler. At the premier of the movie, after it was done, Rowdy Roddy Piper, a WWE Hall of Farmer went up to Darren Aronofsky, in tears, and thanked him for making this movie. Even though it didn’t win the two Oscar’s it was nominated for I think that is high praise in and of itself and for me nothing more needs to be said than what Piper expressed to Aronofsky.

The Wrestler: 8.5/10

***

One last little thing for you, I found this round table discussion featuring former WWF/E, WCW, and ECW superstars talking about their thoughts after watching The Wrestler. Check it out HERE. Bonus points to this round table for having my favourite superstar Diamond Dallas Page.

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Follow Nathan on Twitter @Nait93.

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