The Wrestler

Would it perchance be awards season? One look at the upcoming crop of po-faced releases would most certainly suggest so. OK, I’m well aware that Mickey Rourke has picked up a Golden Globe for this one, and is being flagged up as the oddest come-back since Travlota. But, anyone that saw Sin City or, more particularly Animal Factory (strangely not featured elsewhere on this blog. Great film, Rourke is fantastic as a toothless transvestite con).

The Wrestler tells the story of washed up (you guessed it) wrestler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson. Living a life built on past glories and the refusal to admit they are so, Randy ekes out a meagre existence from one fight to the next. All until a heart attack has him trying to find some peace with his estranged daughter and, to an extent, with himself.

One of the great triumphs of this film is the very thin line it walks between profundity and cheesy cliche. I literally spent a large part of the film thinking “oh god, no, they’re not going to…”. And you can apply any emphasis you like to that. for example, there’s a scene where Randy plays a SNES game featuring himself as one of the characters with one of the local kids. The kid wants bigger faster more modern games. Can you hear the distant clunk of metaphor? If you were wanting to be uncharitable you could see it as Rocky 6, had Stallone had to make them all on progressively smaller budget. But director Darren Aronofsky manages to ustilise the evident lasck of budget to his advantage taking you close into The Ram’s life, building a deeply claustrophobic atmosphere. You almost feel like you’re taking this journey with him. Not the nicest of sensations.

Indeed, Mr R is rather splendid in the central role. Not only is he particualrly bent and broken after all those years boxing in central America, but he manages to convey just how broken The Ram is. Practically every breath he takes, or indeed move he makes, seems to wrack sighs of sheer exhaustion from him. There’s a description in the first film to feature Mr Balboa mentioned above. At one point he describes being so beaten that even your hair hurts. I remeber the thought of it making me cringe. Rourke manages to show you that. Like, really.

Oh, and OUCH!!!!. Big time.

One question: Where are the titty bars where all the dancers are so washed up and wasted they look like Marisa Tomei? Just a thought…


Written by Tony Kiernan

19 January 2009 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Film

%d bloggers like this: