The Wrestler (2008)

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A powerhouse performance highlights the next film in the Easter Binge-a-Thon as Mickey Rourke resurrects his career with his role as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler.

This is a tough watch, one that really rips at the emotional heart of the viewer.  Randy Robinson is a broken-down, aging professional wrestler who is no longer the headliner of the major promotions.  Going form small arena to small arena on the weekends, riding on his reputation, Randy struggles trying to balance his real life with the life in the ring.

Honestly, this film is only somewhat about professional wrestling, although the parts about wrestling is the most realistic parts of any wrestling film.  The movie focuses on Randy “The Ram” as a character study.  Randy tries to make money with a job at the supermarket, tries to make up with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and tries to start a relationship with a strip club dancer (the effervescent Marisa Tomei).

The way Aronofsky filmed The Wrestler showed how sad and alone Randy was and how he used the ring as an escape.  Even when he was faced with the dangers of his heart trouble, he found the ring to be an easier place to exist than the real world.

Some of the scenes with Randy and his daughter were just heart- breaking and so very real.  It played like some of the scenes from the documentary Behind the Mat.  There was not that many scenes with his daughter, but they were sincerely impactful to the story and to the character.

Then, after seeing the hardcore wrestling scene, it was one of the hardest scenes to watch as a wrestling fan.  Just watching the backstage doctors trying to remove the pieces of glass and staples from these men was difficult to watch.

And the final match with the Ayatollah (Ernest Miller) was really tough to watch as well as Randy faced his reality that inside the ring was more to him than outside.  The way the end of the film is left up to interpretation is a brilliant (although frustrating) way to end the film.

Mickey Rourke was absolutely robbed of an Academy Award as he should have won for this rile.  It is one of the most personal, most raw, most devastating and real performances you will ever see.  Whether you love professional wrestling or not, The Wrestler is a masterpiece in cinema.

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