The Wrestler (2008)

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Darren Aranofsky’s visionary film revolving the life of an aging professional wrestler is one of the biggest films of 2008, thanks to a mesmerizing performance from Mickey Rourke, who makes a well worthy comeback to A-list films.

Randy “The Ram” Robinson was a successful professional wrestler in the 1980’s and has continued to wrestle for more independent circuits as of late. Despite his aging, he is still respected by the wrestling community and in his hometown for the most part. However, he has been way past her prime and must hold a part-time job at a local supermarket. His personal life is not any better as well. He has an estranged relationship with his daughter Stephanie and he spends some nights at a local gentleman’s club because he feels close to one of the exotic dancers, Cassidy, who is a struggling single mother.

Things for Randy get worse when he suffers a massive heart attack after one of his matches. When the doctor suggests he retires, Randy decides to do just that. This will give him the opportunity to heal old wounds and hopefully make changes in his personal life. However, deep down, Randy wants to wrestle in one last match, against his old arch nemesis, the Ayatollah. Will Randy be able to achieve both, especially the latter despite his poor health?

Director Darren Aranofsky, along with screenwriter Robert Siegel, created a well-made film about the struggling life of a professional wrestler. In no way is this a glamorization of the world of professional wrestling, but more of a intricate look at a former superstar who has gone through hell and back. In fact, Aranofsky’s message is very clear by the end of the film: even the biggest heroes are in fact, human.

Former 80’s heartthrob Mickey Rourke has had his bad share of recent roles and for a long time, has been waiting for the one role that will launch to make a comeback into A-list status. Look no further than his performance in this film. Rourke brings a sense of true emotion in the role of Randy much like in the sense that he is portraying himself in the film. Both Rourke and his character of Randy are struggling stars hoping to make that impact that made them stars once again years later after making some bad personal decisions. From the outlook of the film, there couldn’t be anyone better than Rourke playing the role of Randy.

Even the two core people in Randy’s life have their own problems. Marisa Tomei gives out a great performance as Cassidy, the exotic dancer who spends a lot of her time at the nightclub with Randy and may in fact have feelings for him. However, she lets her personal problems get in the way of a potential relationship with him, notably the fact that she is a single mother and feels like she cannot do much else aside from dancing.

While she doesn’t have as much screen time as her fellow co-stars, Evan Rachel Wood makes the best of her role as Randy’s estranged daughter Stephanie. She truly hates her father for practically deserting her, yet tends to see how much he has been struggling and offers him a chance for reconciliation.

In conclusion, The Wrestler, much like the documentary Beyond the Mat, takes a look at the real side of professional wrestling. The cast brings out wonderful performances, notably Mickey Rourke, who definitely is the perfect fit for the role of a former superstar on the verge of a comeback despite having to overcome personal obstacles.

WFG RATING: A+

Fox Searchlight Pictures presents a Wild Bunch and Protozoa Pictures production in association with Saturn Films and Top Rope. Director: Darren Aranofsky. Producers: Darren Aranofsky and Scott Franklin. Writer: Robert Siegel. Cinematography: Maryse Alberti. Editing: Andrew Weisblum.

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens, Judah Friedlander, Ernest Miller, Dylan Keith Summers, Tommy Farra, Mike Miller.

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