Mickey Rourke gives the performance of his career in this surprisingly heart-wrenching tale of an aging professional wrestler.
Former wrestling superstar Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) struggles to come to terms with his waning popularity and increasingly fragile body.
With the fame and riches of his heyday a distant memory, Randy now lives in a dingy old trailer. When he’s not suplexing people at weekends, he’s scrounging for extra hours at a mundane day job.
It’s a solitary life, but Randy finds solace in Marisa Tomei’s aging stripper, Cassidy. The chemistry between them stems from their similarites; they’re both aging physical performers pining for their glory days.
After a serious heart attack puts an end to Randy’s wrestling career, he uses his enforced retirement to attempt a reconciliation with his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). However, the allure of one more big match constantly tugs at Randy and giving in to this urge could spell disaster.
Mickey Rourke’s performance is mesmerising. It’s an incredibly physical performance that shows not only the strength needed to be a wrestler, but the crippling effect the sport has on the body. Rourke also lends credence to the insecurities developed from a lifetime spent in the limelight.
Tailing Rourke throughout is Aronofsky’s documentary style cameras. It’s a presentation that’s intentionally shaky, but not only does it provide a fly-on-the-wall look at the violent pantomime that is professional wrestling, it also captures the raw emotions on display.
This is a devastatingly effective drama that reveals the darker side of professional wrestling. This allegedly “fake” sport is brutal. Yes, the outcome of each match is pre-determined, but The Wrestler shows that there’s nothing fake about the toll the sport takes on the human body.
Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, there’s a deeply moving story here that’s worthy of your undivided attention. A must see.