Review: The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke’s powerful performance

January 30th, 2009 at 11:40 pm by under Entertainment

“The Wrestler” is led by Mickey Rourke’s gritty and powerful performance of a wrestler 20 years past his prime.

Randy “The Ram” Robinson is a broken hero with an auditorium full of baggage, and Director Darren Aronofsky takes us along in this very narrow focused movie of a couple weeks in the life of a wrestler and his stripper friend who are both on the verge of retirement from the jobs that have defined their lives.

A warning to parents: this is a rated “R” movie for a reason, you can probably figure out why, but if not, see the rating ino below.
The glitz and glamour are years in his past as Randy “The Ram” Robinson is now battling limited gate receipts at sparsely attended events, old age, and getting locked out of his home at the trailer park.

Aronofsky keeps the camera and mic focused on Rourke for most of the movie… as we get an up close look and listen into what he’s feeling and doing – every cough, sniffle, grunt, almost every breath is captured in the movie.

The entire success of this movie is carried by the broad shoulders of Randy “The Ram”… he’s a physically and emotionally beaten character that has struggles, is heartbroken, and desperate… and he does it, with a almost flawless performance. 

I’m not ready to say this is the best acting or movie of the year, but its certainly very good… and obviously deserving of the nominations being thrown at it.

The attention to detail builds this Randy “The Ram” character…

with the detail of his battle scarred wrestling outfit, his hair that spends most of the movie up in a bun on top of Rourke’s head, his tattered coat with duct tape, the hearing aid in his left ear and the reading glasses he needs in a couple scenes.  Aside from all of the talk of being old and all the old man grunts and noises that Rourke makes, all of these little details help cement the fact that this guy really shouldn’t be wrestling.   Unfortunately, Randy “The Ram” doesn’t have a lot of career possibilities outside of his weekday job at the local supermarket in the shipping/receiving department.

The wrestling matches are not all glossy and fun either, the movie shows us the backstage preparations as the wrestlers prepare for their “match”, there’s a scene involving the steroids and drugs available to the wrestlers, and there’s also the preparation of getting supplies at the dollar store and getting a har dye and suntan.

When Randy “The Ram” finally realizes he’s getting too old to wrestle, the real test begins as he has to decide between the wrestling community – the only family he really knows, and his actual family (Evan Rachael Wood plays his daughter) and possible love interest (played by Marisa Tomei).

THE BOTTOM LINE: This is a fish out of water, odd man out kind of movie with nice touches throughout this film (like Randy “The Ram” working the deli counter), but its really Rourke’s performance that holds this movie up to a higher standard… I give it 8.9 out of 10 … because I felt there were a few scenes that wandered a little bit and weren’t as solid as the rest of the scenes to make it a top caliber movie.  But I’m sure wrestling fans will like it more than I did.

 “The Wrestler”

(2008) (rated: R for violence, sexuality/nudity, language and some drug use) (1 hr, 55 min)

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Genre: Drama/Sport

The Plot: A drama centered on retired professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson as he makes his way through the independent circuit, trying to get back in the game for one final showdown with his former rival.  

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

 

 

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“The Wrestler” poster courtesy Fox Searchlight

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5 Responses to “Review: The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke’s powerful performance”

  1. Tony says:

    I have not seen The Wrestler yet, but I am going to very soon since I found out Darren Aronofsky directed it. His movies never fail to leave some sort of lasting impression with me. I saw his last one, The Fountain, at Studio 28. The theater was totally empty besides myself, yet it was one of the best movie experiences I’ve had. Then again, I thought that movie was good to watch alone, it was easier to feel the isolation felt by Hugh Jackman’s character.

    Good review of The Wrestler, makes me want to see it even more.

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