The Wrestler is a movie that makes grown men cry. A bruising drama about one fighter’s life inside and outside the ring, I thought it maybe got too intense. But what else do you expect from Director Darren Aronofsky who makes provocative films like Pi and Requiem for a Dream?
Randy “The Ram” (Mickey Rourke), a former big-time wrestler approaching 50, still competes in a minor league circuit. After suffering a major heart attack, doctors tell him he can’t wrestle anymore. As Randy searches for ways to fill his empty life, his only friend, an aging stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), suggests Randy reconnect with his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachael Wood). But has he spent so much time wrestling that he can’t cope with normal life?
No split decisions here, The Wrestler is a well-made drama. But the downbeat nature will test some of the audience. The underdog hero, Randy, evokes more pity than sympathy. It’s kind of sad watching an old man juicing himself up with steroids before a match. Randy lives in a trailer park when he isn’t locked out of it for unpaid rent. Unlike other sports dramas, nobody else is willing to strain themselves babying a grown man. The Wrestler gives old movie clichés gritty realism that may not be for everybody.
Darren Aronofsky pulls you into Randy’s life so close you smell more of him than you want to. Known as an experimental filmmaker, Aronofsky also directed Pi about a mathematician driving himself insane searching for the answer to life in numbers. The Wrestler is a bit more conventional Hollywood film. Still, he finds lots of ways to shock you visually and sonically. Much of the film is composed of grimy moving camera shots following Randy around. The pain inflicted on Randy makes you recoil especially during a match involving a ring filled with barbed wire and broken glass.