THE WRESTLER ***

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RANDY “THE RAM” ROBINSON (MICKEY ROURKE) is a man living on the edge.

He is in excellent physical shape but tremendously world weary. Randy is scarred not only physically but emotionally as well.

He was an international wrestling phenomenon in the 80s and his unconventional appearance parallels his time at the top. With his long blond hair and supreme devotion to tanning salons, he looks like a reject from a Vince Neil lookalike contest.

His best days in that profession are all over. Now he’s reduced to working the amateur circuit along with part time employment at a grocery store to subsidize his meager existence.

Randy is enormously likable. But he doesn’t have anyone close who genuinely cares about him. For a tough guy immersed in his own machismo, he’s surprisingly soft on the inside. He has a big heart. But his self destructive tendencies ultimately take a very great toll.

He walked out on his wife a long time ago and he hasn’t seen his daughter STEPHANIE (EVAN RACHEL WOOD) in years. His relationship prospects don’t seem much more encouraging. He’s interested in one of the exotic dancers down at the local strip club. But she thinks of him as more of a meal ticket than anything else.

Randy has almost nothing to show for the time he’s spent on this planet – and he’s merely steps away from losing all of it.

He longs for a new beginning. He tries to reconnect with Stephanie and to put his romantic life in some kind of order.

But then the whip comes down. He loses consciousness after a show and ends up hospitalized. The doctor tells him that he had a serious heart attack. He has to give up wrestling for good. The next one may very well be fatal.

There is nothing that Randy loves more than wrestling. It’s the only time that he feels in control, powerful, productive. In every single area of his life he is a miserable failure.

But in the ring he comes alive. There will never be anything else for him…

Shot on digital video for peanuts, THE WRESTLER is raw, gritty and real.

DARREN ARONOFSKY is an inventive director who is wonderful with actors. Though this is a dark tale of attempted redemption, there are surprising bursts of humour. The scenes where Randy is assigned to the lunch counter are absolutely hysterical. But the Christ allegories are piled on a little thick and they have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer in the summer heat.

EVAN RACHEL WOOD is incredibly effective. Her volatility and understandable anger seem very real.

MARISA TOMEI is slightly better than she was in BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD.

However, Ms. Tomei does not possess the right kind of sensuality to be a believable stripper. Her dancing skills leave much to be desired. She doesn’t even have the correct body type.

But the key to this unconventional film is MICKEY ROURKE. This is easily the biggest and most impressive performance he’s ever given. The parallels between his own life and career are fascinating.

He fully succeeds in creating an authentic character: a living, breathing human being that you sympathize with and have a huge amount of hope for.

This poor, tortured soul is full of lionhearted pride. He wants to do the right thing. Yet he has an amazing amount of weakness. When he says to his daughter (in a particularly riveting scene), “I’m just an old broken down piece of meat and I deserve to be all alone. I just don’t want you to hate me,” your heart willfully breaks into a million pieces.

As the film rolls on towards its inevitable ending, Randy’s dilemmas somehow seem simpler and more clear cut.

Can you ever revisit the heights that you once scaled and feel the passion that was essential to you as breathing?

Anything is possible.

6 Responses to “THE WRESTLER ***”

  1. i read the script to this months ago and i wasn’t blown away. there were other cliches. but even then i was thinking the acting could pick this up a notch or few. had a hunch.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    and mostly what i read about this film is rourke=very good acting.

    not as many refs to well, anyone else in the movie or aronofsky.

    well, you know what i mean. you’ve likely read the reviews.

    haven’t seen this yet. but maybe this week.

    also has anyone seen ROSETTA ???

    following some links via a.d. read aronofsky wanted the wrestler to look a bit visually like a dardenne bros. film. kind of like rosetta.

    hmm maybe i should see both ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. glim, MICKEY is on fire in THE WRESTLER.

    He is just full blown awesome. It’s a fabulous performance.

    I have NOT seen ROSETTA. I have heard excellent things about it, though.

    From what I know, ROSETTA would be the kind of film that Mr. Aronofsky would watch and dissect.

    glim, I hope you enjoy THE WRESTLER if you do decide to go.

    You’ll have to come back and tell me…

  3. However, Ms. Tomei does not possess the right kind of sensuality to be a believable stripper. Her dancing skills leave much to be desired. She doesnโ€™t even have the correct body type.

    hmm m. really i think the traits you mention may work to the advantage of the movie.

    er, i suspect pam’s best days as a dancer may be way in the past ala randy’s best as wrestler. we also discover that pam wants to get out of the strip game (and of course randy should leave wrestling far behind for heath reasons…)

    if the stripper in the movie was played by uh someone more sexy/danced better/younger i don’t think it would have been as believable.

    if the female had those traits it may have made things look more pathetic. uh look who randy has an eye on. true or not it would have made things (to me) the sort of stuff that happens mostly in movies. not as much in real movie for someome on the uh downward slope life/finance wise ala randy.

    so the choice of tomei was more of surprise. and one i felt worked for this film. if whomever felt she doesn’t deserve the oscar nom for this role/her version of it/ that’s fine.

    (i’m really pretty neutral on this/not caring either way…)

    so yeah someone with the more traditiional traits you felt a stripper should have would have in case broken the spell of realism and others are praising this film for a bit….

    and i did see the wrestler. uh when was that a couple of weeks ago. uh something. i would check my ticket. but the landmark houston stubs are there paper slips that are impossible for me to keep up with.

    flimsy/flimsy…

    anyway yes. uh as usual i’m a lot less blown awy by this film than most of you real movie fans. but there ya go… ๐Ÿ™‚

    you what m., i think a couple of times during this award season we talked/asked what phrases from oscar style movie should get repeated/used in blog land.

    well something like that. last year between
    no country/juno/there will be blood, you could have made a solid top 10 of ultra used phrases.

    this year nothing????

    so m. if the wrestler was up for best pic.

    i’d have to nominate the do you want to party like a fire man??? (or whatever the exact line was) as the phrase that should have got quoted everywhere/you’ll find it everywhere.

    even better i’d love to hear stories on the net about this phrase got used/became the indie pick up line of the ages. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    i mean come on it’s just so darn catchy….

    so yep the fireman line had a bigger impact on me than mickey rourke’s acting. but that’s just me. ha ha…

    sort of random. in the wrestler script (or hell whatever version i have)

    when pam/randy duet in the bar, they’re singing to def leppard’s pour some sugar on me (guess they couldn’t afford this song for the movie??)

    and this worked a lot better than ratt ROUND & ROUND song that was used. since the def lep tune is fill of uh sexual undertones/and overtones too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    also another interesting music choice in the script/that didn’t make the movie.

    was the guy randy was facing in the hard core match came to ring to…celtic frost. celtic frost at time avant thrash metal would have been nice contrast to randy more preferred pop/metal.

    (yep randy would have heard this and thought what’s wrong with this?? this music?? this is weird etc…)

    this and the opponent was described (sorry i’m likely
    blotching some detail here and too lazy to recheck) as a crazy guy in mask/hockey mask/face paint sort from the backwoods of ky. that was bigger/younger than randy.

    so in every way, a hardcore match is more to the advantage of his opponent. and randy seems beyond brave for taking the match…

    also in the script, randy has his heart attack during the hard core match. and yep everyone thinks it’s part of the show.

    and m., you may love this when i was leaving. yep i just step outside the building after the screening there was couple. a female part of the couple was saying some like ‘…that was the most awesome movie i’ve seen in long time’ (not close to the exact quote but that gets the feeling across)

    seriously m. you should have heard her voice. she was so enthused. it was funny because when she said this her boyfriend didn’t say anything. just interesting…

    and yes m. this female fan of the wrestler was uh definitely/someone that you’d notice. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    but i definitely heard her voice before i saw her. see was speaking a bit above normal levels of conversation. so she drew some additional eyes…ha ha…

    i have an additional story that uh involves me in a bit of talk in the lobby pre my going into the screening (the outside ticket both was closed/so you had to buy your ticket at the concession stand)

    i guess it’s partly good/ok and partly that’s just my luck (well maybe leaning alot more to that side.ha ha) but i’ll spare you the details for now.

    ha ha…

  4. glim darling…

    I never thought she was too old or looked ancient. But she’s the wrong type. They could have cast someone young like SCARLETT and had her beaten down and look like hell or they could’ve found somebody in her age range who would’ve been believable. I can’t think of anyone offhand, though.

    Anyway, the age deal is irrelevant to me. Some young girls let themselves go and their beauty fades quickly. Especially if they don’t take care of themselves. Then you have some women in their 40s (or even older) that look spectacular.

    Did you see those pictures of HELEN MIRREN in a bikini on the net? She’s in her 60s and she looks better than lots of women half her age.

    Case closed.

    Well, I didn’t like THE WRESTLER nearly as much as some people, glim. I only gave it three stars. Thought you might have really gone for it. Sorry it didn’t do a hell of a lot for you. I really believed that you might have enjoyed it more.

    Oh, God…

    Do you want to party like a fireman…?

    Ick.

    You know, pick up lines don’t really work, honey. You have to have skill to have that stuff go over well – and most boys out there can’t cut the mustard in that regard.

    I’m glad that most of those losers don’t even try to engage with a princess such as myself. One cold green stare is all it takes.

    They learn to fear it.

    One day I threw it over to one of my exes. It took two seconds. But he knew as soon as I looked at him.

    He gulped and said, “Oh, fuck. I’m in trouble now, aren’t I?”

    Oh hell yeah. You’re finished, baby.

    But sometimes fights are good. You never know where you’ll end up.

    Lots and lots and lots of really interesting places…

    Yeah, I don’t care for slutty men. They’re generally easy to spot and anybody with a pick up line probably has cooties up to his eyebrows. You’d never get rid of them.

    No thanks.

    I like your ideas about the music, glim. I used to love DEF LEPPARD. They were wild. ROCK OF AGES, FOOLIN and LOVE BITES are great songs.

    Plus your script ideas are excellent too. I bet you could write something cool that was unconventional and off the beaten path.

    Ever think about that? You could do it, honey. Maybe you should consider something similar.

    You are a creative type, glim. I’m sure of that…

  5. and the wrestler quite a few years later

    http://deadspin.com/5156699/the-rather-sad-tale-of-minnesota-wrestling-icon-verne-gagne

    sorry but the comments had me laughing…really a movie based on this would be for sure oscar nommed…

  6. really a movie based on this would be for sure oscar nommed…

    glim, you’re SO naughty. Ha ha.

    That’s just awful…

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