May 25, 2009

The Wrestler

As I apparently(!) have some degree of writing ability, I thought I would try my hand at writing a movie review. The movie of choice is The Wrestler, which I cried through last night.

I have never really been a fan of Mickey Rourke, but I can now say that by the end of the film, I totally appreciate his craft. Physically he was not pretty to look at, and I suppose that added to what the film was about. A down and out, past his prime wrestler, who couldn't let go of his heyday, an eighties star if you will.

Mickey Rourke portrays Randy "The Ram" Robinson in such a way that he is totally believeable. The only thing he knows is wrestling, and he holds onto this even though he is past his "use by" date. Once a big gun on the wrestling circuit, he now makes his living performing in small matches in high school gyms and the like, for his adoring handful of fans. A menial job, and visits to a strip club trying to romance a well toned Marisa Tomei, make up the rest of his time.

I felt a deep sadness watching him trying to cling on to the glory of his past. The scenes where he visits a tanning salon, and a hairdresser to get his blond foils just right were heartbreaking to watch. He is hanging on to a thread of dignity, even with his glasses and hearing aid showing how much older he is. The friendship and good hearted antics he shares with his fellow wrestlers seems to calm his mess of a world, this is the only place where he feels he belongs.

Randy really does seem like a likeable guy. He enjoys mentoring the up and coming, and shows an interest in what they are doing. He loves the recognition he gets from his fans, who really are the only family he knows.

After a particularly violent match, Randy has a heart attack. He retires and takes stock of his life by trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood. He wasn't looking for sympathy from her, but I felt for him trying to right his wrongs and make something of his life.

But the lure of the fight, and the adoration of his fans were too much to ignore. He decides to come out of a very short retirement and participate in a rematch with the Ayatollah (Ernest Miller), on the 20th anniversary of their previous contest. He is struggling, yes but he fights through the pain because this is all he knows. His speech at the end of the movie, along with the look of sadness in his eyes just before he does his signature move are mesmorising.

Cinematographer Maryse Alberti has given this film a documentary feel by allowing a hand held camera to record Randys life. The camera follows him walking down the narrow steps to the deli he works in as well as the fight ring with his screaming fans waiting. It's a bittersweet comparison.

This film is a character study of a man facing his demons, and his immortality. The resurrection of Mickey Rourke? You bet. The honesty and depth he brings to this character is truly inspiring.

1 comment:

mayberry said...

Great review -- I was afraid this movie would be too depressing but it seems like the inspirational parts overcome that.