Mickey Rourke stars as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, the titular wrestler of this character piece by Darren Aronofsky. Randy is a has-been, working the local independent circuit on weekends and doing odd jobs on weekdays to pay rent. A heart attack backstage triggers his retirement, an attempted romance with a stripper, and an attempt to reconcile with his estranged daughter.
I’ve previously stated admiration for Rourke’s portrayals of Tool and Ivan Vanko in The Expendables and Iron Man 2 respectively. I can’t help but wonder if Hollywood would’ve had the confidence in him – and he in himself – if not for what he did here in The Wrestler. We all know by now the career he’s had, and it’s almost a unanimous consensus across film critics that in acting as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, Mickey Rourke may very well have been acting as himself. Nonetheless, it took great balls on his part to rise to the occasion to connect with the role, which he performed with a magnificent strength and vulnerability.
Perhaps with slight tinge of irony, I must say the same of Marisa Tomei. Gratifyingly bold and beautiful (I’ll leave the soap opera reference up to you) as the stripper Cassidy, there was a youthful energy about her, as if she was genuinely excited to jump right out of her comfort zone into a role she knew came hand in hand with nudity. Nudity that did not just extend to her scenes in the strip club, but as Cassidy’s fully-clothed daytime ego Pam, starkly bare of make-up. I can hardly remember Marisa’s prior performances; she’s never been bad but never demanded our attention much either. But I will remember her forever for this one.
I enjoyed this film very much. I enjoyed watching the entire cast, I enjoyed the fact that it revolved around pro-wrestling, I enjoyed the decidedly lo-fi approach to cinematography and editing that was adopted by Mr Aronofsky and team, and I enjoyed the periods of silence in the soundtrack just as much as I enjoyed the choice occasions where music chose to come in. I enjoyed watching Randy try his best to be happy with his lot and to make something of it, and I felt for him as he began losing his grasp on the world he was trying to build. The Wrestler is an all-round noble effort; one which everyone involved has everything to be proud of.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Producers: Darren Aronofsky & Scott Franklin
Screenwriter: Robert D. Siegel
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood