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Mickey Rourke gives the performance of a lifetime as pro wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a former superstar now paying the price for twenty years of grueling punishment in and out of the ring. But he's about to risk everything to prove he has one more match left in him: a re-staging of his famous Madison Square Garden bout against "The Ayatollah.
The mystery of Mickey Rourke's career comes to a grungy apotheosis in The Wrestler, the much-battered actor's triumphant return to the top rope. He plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a heavily scarred and medicated battler who's twenty years past his best moment in the ring. But he still schleps to every second-rate fight card he can get to, stringing out the paychecks (more likely a fistful of cash) and nursing what's left of his pride. His attempts to adjust to a more normal kind of life form the most absorbing sections in the movie, whether it's flirting with a stripper (Marisa Tomei is in good form, in every sense), establishing a bond with his understandably angry daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), or working behind the deli counter at a nondescript megastore. Rourke is commanding in the role; he obviously spent hours in the gym and the tanning salon, and his ease with the semi-documentary style adopted by director Darren Aronofsky allows him to naturalistically interact with the colorful real-life wrestlers who crowd the movie's ultra-believable locations. All of which helps distract from the film's overall adherence to ancient formula. You might find yourself waiting for the scene where the risk-taking Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) pulls the switch and reveals his true motives for pursuing this otherwise sentimental story, but there's no switch. The Wrestler is an old-fashioned hoke machine, given grit by an actor who doesn't seem to be so much performing the role of ravaged survivor as embodying it. --Robert Horton
Stills from The Wrestler (Click for larger image)
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Top customer reviews
This is a tough movie to review for me. I saw it last night, and I'm still kind of digesting it. Maybe I should wait til I've seen it again before reviewing it, but what the hell, I'll write up my thoughts on the movie now, and see how they change with time.
Randy 'The Ram' Robinson was at the top of the wrestling world (we learn this during the opening credits), 20 years later, he is broke and wrestling at YMCA's and anywhere else they'll have him. It's a movie about a man that can't let go of his past, a man who is always one match away from regaining his former glory, a man who has ****ed up everything he's ever had....because wrestling is all he knows. He's only truly comfortable in the ring, and the movie is as much about his ring persona as it is about him trying find something in the real world to latch onto.
Randy is a regular at a strip joint where he befriends a stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), and after suffering a setback after a match, she urges him to reconnect with his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). Randy's a good guy at heart, and as the film progresses, I really felt bad for the guy as you watch him try so hard to do the right thing, yet constantly **** it up....whether it is his relationship with his daughter, or attempting to turn his "stripper/client" relationship into something more.
Like I pointed out earlier, the movie is split fairly evenly between his wrestling life and his home life. Besides his daughter and the stripper, Randy is trying to make it with a normal job and some of the movie's funniest scenes come out of this. On the wrestling side, Randy is offered a dream gig; a rematch of his greatest match from his glory days. Randy's convinced that this is the shot he needs to make it back into the limelight, but what is he willing to sacrifice to fulfill that dream?
Overall, the movie is just fantastic. It's brutally honest and violent and emotional and almost feels like a documentary. All actors are pitch perfect in their rolls. This isn't a movie for only wrestling fans, so please don't let that stop you from seeing it. If you are anything like me, I have a feeling you'll be engrossed by the end of the movie. Which brings me to my only real gripe.....the ending. When the movie ended I felt jipped. I was angry that something I was enjoying so much would end like that. I was also a bit confused (mostly because it was so unexpected). Given time to think about it, I can appreciate the ending a bit more and I might even be leaning towards loving it. I am also fairly certain I understand what happened now(but I won't discuss that in a review). Also, I feel like Bruce Springsteen's song at the end IS part of the movie....it's not just a filler song to play over the credits, it just sums everything perfectly.
The movie is called The Wrestler... and it's pretty damn good.