CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

If you lived through the 80s, you will relate to "The Wrestler."

The credits roll for "The Wrestler" with a montage of wrestling matches and heavy metal music. As writer/director's name comes up, we learn that Randy the Ram (Mickey Rourke) was a big name in 1989. Twenty years later, Randy the Ram is still a crowd favorite, but it is now a very small crowd. Randy the Ram has gone from filling stadiums to barely filling elementary school gyms.

In the dressing room, Randy is an iconic legend, well liked by the neighborhood kids and is generous with an autograph to his fans. Yet Randy the Ram's personal life is in a shambles. He is evicted from his trailer and needs a bagful of drugs to keep his body functioning. Randy has also been estranged from his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) who is a college student. At least Randy has a soulmate in Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), a 44 year old stripper who has also seen better days.

As the writer for **The Wrestler,** Darren Aronofsky has created a drama that drinks from the scribes of lore, Ernest Hemingway's short story **The Battler** or Rod Serling's **Requiem for a Heavyweight.** At the director, Aronofsky acknowledges an audience that has grown up with **Rocky ** movies, Vince McMahon wrestling and reality television.

**The Wrestler** takes the viewer behind the scenes of a wrestling event. The film delights with backstage conversations. The ticket buyer witnesses the professionalism of the wrestlers in the locker room, in contrast to the onstage showmanship in the ring. With gritty realism, the violence looks more real in **The Wrestler** than what one sees on Pay Per View Television.

**The Wrestler** is a performance driven movie. Mickey Rourke makes the most of his comeback role, Randy the Ram has charm - but a subtle character flaw that is worthy of Greek Tragedy. Evan Rachel Wood is in three scenes, but provides the heart of the movie. Then there is Marisa Tomei as the aging stripper, Cassidy.

Given the conclusion of the film Darren Aronofsky would be wise to draft a companion piece to **The Wrestler,** perhaps **The Stripper?** With fewer scenes than Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei dominates the film. When she is not on the screen, one wonders what Cassidy the stripper is up to and how she will raise her son. Beneath her veneer of stripper professionalism, Tomei's eyes reveal a damaged soul.

While there is plenty of physical action, this talkative drama will not hold late night audience attention. Yet **The Wrestler** is an afternoon drama worthy of a matinee price.
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