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The Wrestler March 3, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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If at some point in your life you’ve been hooked to Pro Wrestling and always longed that somebody make a film centered around this sport – and I mean one which isn’t a silly flick about fanboys; then you’re in luck. Darren Aronofsky’s acclaimed film is a much welcome entity in the sports underdog genre.

Sure it faithfully adheres to the stock elements in this genre – a down and out wrestler (“Randy the Ram”) trying to connect with his estranged daughter and whose only confidant is a stripper (“with a heart of gold” of course!). What makes the film notches above any similar flick you might have seen is the unbelievably authentic performance of Mickey Rourke. His being a professional boxer might have helped him to an extent to physically prepare for the role but that’s just one part of the story. As the has-been trying to find keep his life from falling apart further Rourke is absolutely convincing and really makes you feel for him. There are times you feel things getting a bit too melodramatic but thankfully those moments never go out of hand.

The best part centres around the wrestling bouts themselves. The staged brutality to entertain the spectators (the no-holds-barred hardcore match especially) in contrast to the unbelievable camaraderie between the players backstage is something which amazes you. I am not quite sure if that sort of thing exists in the big professional leagues (WWE, TNA et al). Given the physical onslaught the wrestlers go through and the corresponding “care” their bodies need to be given to withstand that; no wonder you hear about so many premature deaths and emotionally disturbing acts.

Though I stopped following the sport a few years back, I remember a lot of people who used to ask me (and everyone else who watched it) why I would be excited about something which is obviously “fake”. I don’t think I had a clear answer back then or even now – it’s akin to asking why one loves a movie even though you know everything is “fake” or “staged”. Anyways, Rourke apart there is also Marisa Tomei – who continues her newfound tradition of appearing naked in great films. She and Evan Rachel Wood just fill the customary supporting parts and nothing more is expected of them.

I also liked the way the camera follows behind Rourke most of the time – it gives that mockumentary feel which makes Randy “The Ram” look even more authentic. Aronofsky delivers one of the best redemption movies ever and if not for anything else Mickey Rourke’s tour de force act alone makes it a must watch.