The Wrestler (2008)
A Bad Movie Studios Film Review
I’m a huge wrestling fan, and have been for years now. So when I first heard about this movie, I have to say my interest was peaked more by my love of the squared-circle, as opposed to my desire of seeing a creative masterpiece. And I’m happy to say that this movie is both. The Wrestler is directed by Darren Aronovsky (2010’s Black Swan) and stars Mickey Rourke as former pro wrestling star Randy “The Ram” Robinson. It depicts him slogging through life after 20 plus years on the road, entertaining fans the world over. Now aged considerably with his career flung back into gymnasiums and armories, he battles a myriad of issues, including his deteriorating health, less than less than stable relationship with his estranged daughter, and his inability to adjust to daily life without the sport he’s given his body too for so long. This film is credited as resurrecting Mickey Rourke’s career and getting him into mainstream appeal again, as can be seen with his inclusion in the films The Expendables (2010) and Iron Man 2 (2010). The praise for his performance in this film was shown with his receival of a BAFTA award, a Golden Globe Award, an Independent Spirit Award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The film in general has gotten pretty critically acclaimed as it won the Golden Lion Award in the 2008 Venice Film Festival. Roger Ebert also called it “one of the best films of the year”. But the awards for this movie go beyond just Mickey Rourke, as Marisa Tomei (who plays a single mother/stripper/love interest in the film) was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. So it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of people like this film. And I’m one of them.
I don’t really wanna talk too much about the plot, as I feel like I’ve summed it up fairly well, and I don’t want to spoil it for anybody the hasn’t seen this movie yet. I will comment however on Mickey Rourke’s portrayed the fictional wrestler Randy “The Ram”. Well, to be short, sweet and to the point, he did a great job. Rourke is very believable in this film, really getting across the many different stages of joy and grief that his character goes through. It’s a standout performance in a film that has solid acting all the way around. Marissa Tomei also does a really good job, coming off as a real person instead of a character. And Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie (“The Ram”s daughter) is very good as well. This is the only role I had ever seen her in, and I can at least say that she made an impression with me. Her scenes with Mickey are great drama pieces that drive home the emotion of the film.
Another great aspect of this movie is it’s good use of cinematography. There are a few cool and interesting shots in the movie, and overall, it has a really interesting look to it. I would actually say that there’s an indie look to it as a whole (if such a thing truly exists) which is fairly fitting since The Wrestler was filmed with a budget of $6 million. It has this sort of dulled color pallet that keeps very well with the tone of the story. And the editing of the movie is reminiscent of a music video in it’s use of short jump cuts and how it keeps the visuals as simple but effective as possible. There’s also an almost documentary feel to the film at times, where the camera gets close in on the characters and follows them around in a way that makes you feel you are actually right there with them. There’s a clever use of zoom in some shots as well that is both very natural to the eye but creative.
Of course, what would a movie about a professional wrestler be without wrestling. And this movie doesn’t disappoint. There are 3 different matches featured in the film, and they are all shot beautify and in such a way as to show the “dance” that’s going on in the ring, and be entertaining as well. What’s really cool is the use of real wrestlers and independent wrestling promotions in the movie (such as Ring of Honor). None of the wrestlers come off as hokey when on camera either. From them, it seems real, like another day at the office. And to those men and women, it is. What’s also interesting to me, is that Mickey Rourke actually learned how to wrestle for this movie. He was trained by WWE Hall of Fame wrestler, Afa Anoa’i, one half of the wrestling tag team the Wild Samoans.
This movie really satiates me on a lot of different levels. The film student and director in me loves it’s creativity, technically sound and aesthetically pleasing visuals, and the rock solid performance of it’s actors. The wrestling fan in me loves the very true to life look at professional wrestling, both the good and the bad. And the great match scenes are lots of fun. Overall, this movie is a total package, being both entertaining and very good at the same time. Some people might get turned off by the subject matter of the film, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a watch. I highly recommend it.
Final Score – 89
- The Wrestler Movie Review (theeradicatorreviews.com)