Monday, January 10, 2011

#28: The Wrestler


The Wrestler is a moving story set in 2009 about Randy Robinson(Mickey Rourke), a hugely popular professional wrestler from the mid-80s. The film's opening credits are a piece of beauty as they explain in a few minutes the might of Randy Robinson in the '80s to the audience through an on-screen collage of newspaper cuttings and voice overs of wrestling commentary from those days. Cut to the present time, 20 years later and we see Randy sitting alone in a hall with both his hands strapped and another minute later when he doesn't move we realize this is a desolate man at the end of a sagging career. So much is conveyed in so little time that the film grips you with this intense beginning.

As the character is further developed, we are introduced to Randy's only friend Cassidy(Marisa Tomei), who works in a strip joint and his estranged daughter Stephanie(Evan Rachel Wood) who doesn't think twice about calling her Dad an asshole. Make no mistake, this is a story about 'The Wrestler' and in director Darren Aronofsky's able hands, Mickey Rourke is the centerpiece of virtually every scene there is in the movie. He makes you sympathise, cheer and admire Randy for the nice buddy that he is to his friends, the father that he wants to be for his daughter and the not-just-another-customer he wants to be for Cassidy.

Mickey Rourke, whom we better knew as the guy from the erotic saga of 9 1/2 Weeks is an artist at work in this movie. While his professional boxing career would've helped in the preparation for this role,(he even wrote some scenes for the movie to make it more real) nothing takes away the endearing mould that Mickey carves out for Randy's character. He plays with kids, shops for clothes for his daughter and even dances to GNR in a pub that takes the viewers closer to him. Mickey went through training with professional wrestlers for eight weeks while prepping for this role and it goes a long way in making him take to the role of Randy like a duck to water. Marisa Tomei, hot as the hottest piece of burning coal there can be, plays the support that Randy so badly needs in his life. The only weak link in the movie probably is the transformation that her character goes through in the movie- that particular segment makes you feel it could've been wrought with a bit more tension as it happens too easily.

It's amazing sometimes how movies can mirror reality. The Wrestler is the movie that is said to have resurrected Mickey's Rourke's sagging career. In a befitting context, all that the character of Randy wants in the movie, is another shot at glory that he has had in the past. Writer Robert Siegel and Darren Aronofsky may or may not have seen the parallel but the movie does benefit because of this similarity. And ironically though this is a movie about the world of professional wrestling that's all about fake fights(you'll realize there's more to them though once you see this) and back-stabbing, it's also a film with a lot of heart and a lot of warmth- something that will stay with you long after you've seen the movie.

Rating: 7.2/10