Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Wrestler

An barely recognizable Mickey Rourke stars as the titluar wrestler, one Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Randy has long been on the downward slope of his career, and while a still-respected figure in the wrestling world, in the outside world, he barely ekes out a living. There's no glamour in Randy's life; wrestling in small matches in school gyms and legion halls, locked out of his trailer home, working part-time in a supermarket to get enough money for food, and drugs and the occasional lap dance from Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), Randy is both literally and figuratively beaten down. In the aftermath of one fight, something happens that causes Randy to make a change in his life and reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). But can he truly leave the world of wrestling behind for a more conventional life?

Rourke gives an extremely powerful, raw and natural performance as Randy. His sheer physical presence lends an incredible air of reality to the role; you can believe that every bruise and scar was earned over a lifetime in the ring. He always remains a sympathetic character as the adulation and respect he gets in the wrestling world contrasts sharply with the lack of the same in the outside one. Director Darren Aronosfsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) easily sidesteps what could have ended up as cliched plots with the tearful reuinion with the daughter and the stripper with a heart-of-gold, and instead presents something far more real. Definitely recommended.

Fresh off of winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Aronofsky introduced the film, but unfortunately didn't stay for a Q&A afterwards at the screening I attended.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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