A fantastic film, powered by a moving lead performance by a resurgent Mickey Rourke, is not only a treat for a huge Wrestling Smark like me, but for movie goers everywhere.
The film is the 4th release of Darren Arronofsky, and it’s quite simple to say that he hit the ball out of the park on this one. He presents us with a world both seedy and underground, but genuine and real as well. His direction style works well, and the film actually plays like a documentary. It looks grimy and real, sweaty and true all at the same time. A lot of that is because he chose to use a lot of real people in this film. Real wrestlers with no acting experience, real people in the grocery store, real people everywhere. It adds a lot of, you guessed it, realism to a film that could have ended up alienating an audience that is not familiar with the world in takes place in.
There are little things throughout the movie that stuck out to be as fantastic little additions, like Randy’s action figure, or the Nintendo game where he plays as himself against a kid as The Ayatollah, his one-time arch nemesis.
The real stand-out, as anyone and everyone heard around Awards season last year, is Mickey Rourke. As Randy ‘The Ram” Robinson, he completely dives off the turnbuckle into the role, and he succeeds in every single way.
As a fan of pro-wrestling, I’m familiar not only with the world in which “The Ram” finds himself, but with versions of the character himself. Throughout the world of wrestling, these men actually do exist. Men who break their bodies for a few bucks, with no health insurance, no retirement plan, and plenty of vices all around tempting them to blow what little money they do have.
As Randy works through his demons, and the chance at another big match (a re-match with The Ayatollah), he also works to repair a relationship with an estranged daughter, works to create a relationship with a stripper.
The film is full of powerful and poignant scenes, and there is one in particular that stuck out to me. Randy, working in a Supermarket, gets moved from the back of the store, to a prominent role in the deli, to which he initially does not want to do. But as he starts behind the counter, throughout the day, he starts realizing that he can use his skills as a wrestler to please the crowd, and to make his work-day just a little bit easier.
But soon his greatest fear his realized, as he’s recognized by an old fan, and Randy soon resorts back to his wrestling training once again, using some misdirection and throwing his hand into a slicer and quitting, as he gains the bug to perform in his natural environment once again.
The film is fantastic, start to finish. Even people who aren’t as involved in wrestling as I am can enjoy the film for what it is. A very good piece of work from a reborn actor and a consistently good director. It’s not just a film about wrestling. It’s an intimate character study about a man who happens to be a wrestler.
Score: 9.0/10 (Superb)