Expect movie reviews from my boy Julian every so often (whenever he feels like it)!
The '80's were defined by excess and fast living. Many who found their glory days during that decade didn't survive it, and many that did were forced to live their lives as parodies of their former selves. Sadly, plenty of the fallen heroes of the 80's were left so numb to the world that the only thing they feel is pain. Randy "The Ram" Robinson(Mickey Rourke) is a true testament to this, as the only time he feels alive-or anything at all-is when he's aching.
Close to 20 years after the arenas emptied on his career, professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" makes a sad living wrestling for small crowds in school gyms and rec centers. It's so sad, in fact, that after months of barely being able to pay his rent; his fed-up land lord locks him out the trailer he calls a home. Outside of pre-pubescent boys and wrestling "colleagues", it's quite clear that nobody could give a fuck less about "The Ram". However, he finds a kindred soul in Cassidy; the stripper with a heart of gold played perfectly by Marissa Tomei. Robinson's biggest failure outside of the ring is the relationship wtih his daughter Stephanie(Evan Rachel Wood), whose hate and disapppointment in him is evident in her every look.
The brilliance and tragedy of The Wrestler lies in the similarities between Rourke and Tomei's characters. Both are performers, feeling vibrant and commanding when they're on stage. Unfortunately, they're both well over the hill. In one extremely New Jersey scene, Randy and Cassidy reminisce on their glory days of the 80's while dancing to Ratt's "Round and Round". They dismiss the 90's, and icons like Kurt Coban as "whiny pussies", while praising 80's legends like Guns N' Roses and Motley Crue. It highlights just how stuck in the past the two are. The real tragedy with both characters is how they've found their self-destructive glory in professions where their real names aren't used. Both struggle to adjust to the real world, where their real names are necessary. As a result, they return to the familiar pain; Robinson's being physical and Cassidy's emotional.
The strength of the performances drive this film. As a man who can only relate to physical pain, Rourke gives the best performance of his uneven career. He's already taken home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and I'm confident the Academy Award will be his as well. Marissa Tomei is equally effective as Cassidy, who has legitimate sympathy for Randy, but is forced to remind him that their relationship is exists strictly within the confines of a strip club. The performance earned Tomei a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role as well. Evan Rachel Wood is sufficient as Robinson's estranged daughter, although I found her scenes to be slightly forced and predictable.
The Wrestler may not be Darren Aronofsky's best film, but it's still an introspective look into the world fallen heroes, failed dreams and masochism. Wrestling may be fake, but pain is real.
Rating: 3/4 Stars
* Taken from his facebook.