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Twenty years after his glory days, an older and more beat up Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is still wrestling in school halls and gyms, because it’s the only thing he knows how to do. Spending what little money he makes on steroids and the closest thing he has to a friend in stripper Cassidy (Marissa Tomei) it’s little wonder his van is also his home when he gets locked out of his trailer.
Times are hard for Randy, his body can’t take it much more and after a violent battle involving barbed wire, cutlery, staple guns and all manner of other devices, Randys body just gives up and he goes into cardiac arrest. Still alive doctors suggest he never wrestle again so he pulls out of a fight twenty years in the making and tries to rekindle his relationship with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). Much like everything else in his life, he screws it up and once again loses everything. He goes back to the wrestling industry as there people love him and appreciate him, but it will also kill him.
The Wrestler is the most surprising film you’ll see. Thinking about it as a subject matter you will think men in tights pretending to fight but the film goes beyond that. Sure the fights and spots are staged but the violence is real, as shown when Randy cuts himself in the ring to give himself a crimson mask and make the violence seem more real. He knows he has nothing, he can’t relate to the modern world, he doesn’t understand the concept of Call of Duty 4 or able to hold down a job in a deli which is why when not pouring his heart out to Cassidy during a lap dance he’s in the ring doing what he does best.
Cassidy is on a similar journey, she has a persona she puts on at work but is aware of her aging frame. She treats Randy as just another customer but deep down she harbours real feelings for him which come out when, as Pam, her real self, and Randy share a drink and talk about when eighties music ruled. She wants to open herself to Randy and help him, save him, but Randy knows its only the roar of the crowd that will save him.
Remarkable performance from Rourke in a role that is scarily similar to his own story, a star in the past whose train to glory went off the rails. The film in shot in a shaky cam fashion, making this look sort of like a documentary and it works, it adds more realism to the film and anyone who follows wrestling will know just how real the film already is. This is worthy of its rave reviews and wouldn’t surprise me if it picked up an award or two. Well worth the price of admission.