The Wrestler Movie Review
By Max Miller, Grade 9
You’ve probably seen The Wrestler before. Maybe it wasn’t called The Wrestler; maybe it was Rocky or Million Dollar Baby or The Rookie. We’ve all watched the underdog sports hero fight against insurmountable odds to reach the top. It’s been done to death. So, it’s pretty amazing that The Wrestler – a film that follows many of these conventions – always manages to feel fresh and poignant. It’s an honest contender for my favourite film of 2008.
Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) has seen better days. His huge career in the 80s finished, The Ram now fights in small-time wrestling match-ups and works at his local Acme supermarket. Eventually, Randy is offered a chance to relive his
glory days by having a rematch with his most popular opponent. However, he’s quickly diagnosed with a heart condition, and he could be killed if he continues his wrestling career.
There’s two people complicating Randy’s decision to wrestle or not – Cassidy (Marissa Tomei), a stripper who he starts building a real relationship with, and Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), his estranged daughter. It’s his relations with these two women that make The Wrestler stand out in the overcrowded sports genre. The emotional drama between the characters is very believable and often heart-wrenching. The Wrestler will probably bring some people to tears… it did for me.
Part of the movies’ emotionality comes from the performances. Tomei and Wood’s performances are honest and heartfelt, and it’s hard not to be wowed by the two. And then there’s Mickey Rourke, in the performance of a lifetime. Rourke’s turn as the ‘old broken down piece of meat’ is powerful and truly believable. He’s just as committed to his role as Heath Ledger was as The Joker, or Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, if not more so. Rourke is The Ram.
Darren Aronofsky’s direction is great as well using a more low-key approach than his past films. The Wrestler is shot almost entirely with handheld cameras giving it a faux-documentary feel. Aronofsky never tries to wow audiences with extravagant flourishes, and he doesn’t have to. The simple style is perfect for the film.
The Wrestler overcomes its stories’ familiarity with sharp dialogue, solid direction, genuine emotions, and three incredible performances from its leads. To quote Bruce Springsteen’s great ending song; tell me, friend, could you ask for anything more?