Anthony's Film Review
The Wrestler (2008)
An interesting look at the other side of a professional wrestler's life...
The Wrestler is one of those stories that opens your eyes and lets you see the other side. After all, there are certain types of people whose private lives are truly out of the public eye. For me, professional wrestlers are definitely one example. After these massively muscular gladiators do their stuff in the ring, I rarely hear about what they do afterwards in their own lives. The only time I've heard of a wrestler dealing with life issues was when Hulk Hogan went through a divorce.
The first part of this movie shows the brutality of American professional wrestling. Mickey Rourke is Randy Robinson, better known as "The Ram." He had been famous in the 1980s, and two decades later, he's still doing local matches. If you're not familiar with this brand of wrestling, this will enlighten you. Basically, it's all about entertainment rather than competition. All of the violent acts the wrestlers do to each other are clearly staged, because the wrestlers are giving each other cues to make a move and because the locker room scenes show the wrestlers celebrate the good show they put on together.
All of this is a major contrast to most of the remainder of the movie, which is very quiet. We see Randy living alone in a trailer and working at a grocery store for extra cash. He also regularly visits a strip club where he befriends a stripper named Cassidy, played by Marisa Tomei. Then there is Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie, Randy's daughter from a past relationship whom he had not seen in ages. However, when he decides to visit her one day, she resents him because he had never been around for her.
The early wrestling scenes serve another purpose: illustrate the physical impact on Randy. When you consider how sadistic and masochistic the whole sport is, it's no surprise that Randy soon faces a serious health problem and is advised that wrestling may not be for him anymore. This occurs just as Randy is looking forward to a rematch with another wrestler, whom he had competed with 20 years earlier. Therefore, another issue Randy has to struggle with is whether he will retire from wrestling. At least his time off allows him to deal with his other issues, like his love for Cassidy and his desire to make amends with Stephanie.
The Wrestler is really a simple movie about life. Honestly, it's not one that I consider to have any significant emotional impact. At the same time, the story does certainly present a developed central character, a "broken-down piece of meat who deserves to be alone," and ultimately answers the question as to where Randy's happiness ultimately lies. Plus, I did enjoy Mickey Rourke's performance as a buff guy with a soft side. He certainly played his role well enough, and after seeing this movie, I can definitely look at professional wrestlers in a whole new way.
For more information about The Wrestler, visit the Internet Movie Database.