The Wrestler (2008)

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Published on: 2009.09.22

The Wrestler features a couple of actors in the evenings of their careers — Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei — but both prove why they’ve been in the business so long. They carry this movie.

Rourke has 10 other movies either in production or post-production, scheduled for release in the next year or two, and he’s already earned fame in movies like Body Heat, Nine 1/2 Weeks, Wild Orchid, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Sin City.

Tomei’s credit list is almost as long, breaking into stardom with Oscar and My Cousin Vinny, and continuing her trek with Four Rooms, What Women Want, Wild Hogs, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

In this movie, centered around Rourke’s character — Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson — Rourke and Tomei play believable characters who are also on the back end of careers.

Rourke is the washed up professional wrestler who thrives off the fame he earned in the 1980s, struggling through low-dollar matches in tiny arenas just to make ends meet. Just as a chance for a huge comeback comes along, he begins to consider quitting the business.

Tomei is the aging stripper — “Cassidy” — that Robinson is in love with, but her “can’t date customers” rule has kept them apart for a while.

While Robinson struggles with drug addictions (mostly related to his profession) and Cassidy comes to realize that she loves Robinson back, the storyline takes a couple of small twists and turns.

There aren’t any huge surprises in the story, just in the gritty way it’s played out. The filmwork is awkward in places, as if the handheld camera is attached to Rourke’s back. In several scenes, it follows just a few feet behind him, bobbing with each of his steps.

For those with long-time crushes on Tomei, she’s finally nude in this movie (as she was in 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and it’s not disappointing. But it is presented realistically, rather than gratuitously.

Watching both main characters (the only two that are really developed in the film) fight against the fates is both painful and pleasurable. In places, it was almost too realistic.

For the most part, the story moves slowly, then jerks ahead several days or weeks at a time, which was also a little unnerving. But it seemed fitting at the end.

I can imagine just about any movie fan enjoying this show, except those who are squeamish or easily offended.

IMDb: The Wrestler
Wikipedia: The Wrestler
Rating: R
(for violence, sexuality/nudity, language, and some drug use)
Length: 111 min. (1:51)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Genre: Drama / Sports
My Rating: 7 of 10
Family Friendly: No
(this one earns its “R” rating)
Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Ernest Miller

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