The Wrestler - Movie Review

The Wrestler

Some might say that the Wrestler is a compelling and moving drama. When they say that they mean it in reference to Mickey Rourke, the lead performer who picks up his role with striking conviction. Although I did briefly mistake him for a talking leather sack of oranges, his performance becomes thoroughly convincing. Apparently The Wrestler happens to be his return to great film-making. Naturally, seeing that this has universally been proclaimed as "great film-making," that means you'll be beaten over the head with religious imagery, long pauses for silence, and gritty hand-held camera shots. The Wrestler, at it's core, is a sports story, and it's a predictable one at that. Although the pseudo-documentary style is at times striking, something about the chronicled fall of Randy "The Ram" Robinson just doesn't feel authentic.

The character of Randy "The Ram" is essentially interchangeable with the character of the real-life Mickey Rourke, which in turn is interchangeable with the character of a steroid infused briefcase. He has been places, many places, and at one point carried a healthy stash of cash and success with him, but he got worn out, and now he has to scrap together the torn pieces of himself. In the film he was once a world-class wrestler, but now he has an old body and an even older soul. Seeking acceptance through his estranged daughter, his favorite stripper, and even old wrestling buddies, Randy begins to realize that his name is only truly welcome as "The Ram."

This sounds like a great movie, and at times it is. But ironically, the film is only at it's most real when it is inside of the wrestling ring. We see that the moves might be staged, but the pain is excruciatingly authentic. Is it really like this in real life? I'm not sure. Last time I watched wrestling a ten foot tall man was tag-teamed by a midget dressed as a leprechaun and a black break-dancer dressed as a woman. Now THAT was entertaining.

The Wrestler feels somewhat long. It's pretentious manner is at times well deserving due to it's skillful execution, yet fails due to it's shallow narrative. It works as an inspiring tragedy, but falters in it's emotional authenticity not because of it's acting or directorial work, but because the story is what you might expect if the Lifetime channel and Spike TV had a baby. The Wrestler is not truly about redemption, rather it is about sacrifice for the sake of entertainment. But I was never completely into it, nor do I really care if I see it again. If the men who made this film were truly dedicated to that message then they should've hired that leprechaun again. Maybe that's just me.


Bradley Clarke said...


i agree that the wrestler is overrated (and nowhere near as good as the fountain or pi), but it's funny that you comment about how the film doesn't feel real, because many of the characters weren't played by professional actors and significant portions of the script were improvised.

Zack Newcott said...

Reality is found in the content, not in it's execution.