Celebrating Great Films

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Wrestler

The Wrestler#57 at time of writing.

Breathtaking. Desperately sad. Brutal and beautiful. This is Darren Aronofsky's most mature piece yet, full of subtlety.

Mickey Rourke deserves an Oscar for his performance as washed-up wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Nicolas Cage and Sly Stallone were considered for the part, but I doubt the film would have been as memorable with one of them in the lead - Rourke's real-life history as an ageing big-time boxer makes it personal.

This film is full of great set-pieces - from the quiet (Randy playing himself as a Nintendo character) to the hardcore (the match with the razor wire and the staples).

The most effective aspect of Randy's character is that no matter what mistakes he might have made in the past his sense of regret is so strong and genuine that it is impossible not to forgive him. As beaten down and alone as Randy gets, he never loses his fighting spirit.

Don't dismiss this film because of its subject matter. If you're inclined (as I was) to dismiss professional wrestling as laughable fakery, you will come out of this film with a new perspective. These guys are tough nuts. With emphasis on the nuts.

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