The Wrestler

“The only place I get hurt is out there. The world doesn’t give a shit about me”

Review by Lewis Goodall

I’ve already done the wrestling intro gimmick when I wrote my review for catfight, I don’t want to go repeating myself, kinda screwed myself over really with this one, would’ve worked perfectly here. Instead of repeating myself, go ahead and read that intro but replace Sandra Oh with Mickey Rouke and Anne Heche with life and it pretty much works the same. The story of a man battling life, that about sums it up.

Darren Aronofsky back at it again appearing on Critically Ashamed, I’m just obsessed with his films so they need to be talked about more so I wont stop until each of his films have been reviewed, and as you know, this is the one for his 2008 film ‘The Wrestler’. Mickey Rouke plays Randy Robinson, a washed up wrestler with the Alias ‘The Ram’. 20 years back he was on top of the wrestling world with everyone knowing his name, having action figures of him and having posters of him up on the wall where he’s dressed as a free fighter. Nowadays he’s faded but still persists to be known in the wrestling world, doing small gigs and autographs. With his age getting in the way of his lifestyle, he must retire. Outside of the ring is more of a challenge for Randy as he’s tries to be someone he’s not.

Apparently this film is meant to be the male counterpart to ‘Black Swan’. Black swan of course being about a woman, hellbent on being perfect in her selected sport. With The wrestler having essentially the same premise and the fact I would consider black swan perfect, I naturally wanted to jump on this film harder than the big show would if he dived on someone from the ropes. This film came out 2 years before Black Swan and I feel like the wrestler was practise for when Darren made Black Swan as it’s really really good but it lacked the same sharp edges.

Mickey Rouke has a smash performance depicting The Ram. He plays the run down wrestler perfectly, it’s almost as if the character and film itself was written around him which it kind of was, Darren himself said he wrote the part for Mickey. He’s a man, broken by a world who has forgotten about him, now that certain events have brought him back into the real world, he picks up the broken pieces that he’s left behind in his pursuit to be the best. Such things include being a father to his daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). Since he walked out on her for his career, let’s just say she was a wee bit pissed when he looked up out of nowhere to try and be her dad again. The relationship between the two, although being volatile is sweet as you can tell that they both would prefer to have each other in their lives. Randy also gets randy for one Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), a local stripper who he sees more as a friend rather than someone who just grinds up against his junk. When I say he also gets randy for Cassidy, I’m not saying he gets randy over his daughter or anything, although actually I don’t know, I didn’t watch the deleted scenes. Anyway, his relationship with Cassidy is sweet as they both grow together whilst also having restrictions against them to get closer.

In general the relationships that Randy tries to build ultimately have barriers and the only true relationship that truly makes Randy feel whole is his relationship with the ring. Even during his new job on the deli counter, he still relates every day tasks to his wrestling career. This Includes one of the finest bits of sound editing I’ve ever seen when he is walking through the back tunnels at this supermarket and as he walks past machines that hum, you can ever so slightly hear a crowd cheering, with every machine he walks past, the cheering gets louder and it was just so cleverly edited in. Good job sound guy.

Expertly acted by everyone involved, I’ve also mentioned about how Darren has a way to make the characters feel real and fleshed out which definitely still applies here. The script feels real and it’s all edited together nicely to tell The Rams story and his fall from glory. It does steadily pick up as he is pulled back into the ring for a rematch of a battle that happened 20 years ago. Randy must decide which path he must follow, be the man that society tells him to be and build upon his relationships or does he try and reclaim his glory and head back into the ring? That’s the part I’ll leave for you to find out.

Overall, this is typical Darren Aronofsky, I would say however that I felt that this film felt a bit more down to earth than his other films, this one felt a bit more real and didn’t have that same sucker punch feeling with the ending like all his other films have, but ultimately it’s still a thrill ride that’ll make you think “Christ, I wish I looked like Mickey Rouke when I’m his age”. Believe me, the man looks like Zeus, its incredible.

8 Stapler Piercings out of 10

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