Writer: Robert D. Seigel
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Budget: $7 million (estimated)
darren aronofsky's The Wrestler is the story of an aging ex-pro wrestler, randy 'the ram', about 20 years past his prime, as he works his way through the independent circuit, works in a grocery store and tries to reconnect with the daughter he estranged years ago.
the idea of a character past their prime and dealing with aging and loneliness and used up fame isn't a new one and i couldn't help but think of the last rocky movie, Rocky Balboa, and i mean that in a good way. while the rocky franchise had become kind of a joke, Rocky Balboa was actually a pretty good film that really tried to deal with a good man who was once great and now really only had his past to keep him company.
however, in the tradition of the Rocky franchise, stallone went a little different way with Rocky Balboa then independent filmmaker and director of Requim For A Dream darren aronofsky did with The Wrestler. and i have to say, while it worked with Rocky Balboa, the same kind of grandness and 'happy ending' wouldn't have worked in The Wrestler.
now, i can't talk about The Wrestler without talking about the incredible performance from mickey rourke. he had a little bit of a 'come-back' with his performance in Sin City a few years back, but this one could do for him what Pulp Fiction did for travolta, if the film ever gets seen as much as Pulp Fiction did (which it wont).
rourke's performance is excellent, and in a year with some great performances it stands among the best. he doesn't play randy 'the ram' as a pathetic washed up ex-wrestler. or a guy looking to be the greatest again, or any of those stereotypes. rather he is a sweet man who has really ever only been great at one thing, wrestling. it is where he feels the most comfortable and appreciated and where he feels sure of himself. there are definitely stereotypical elements to him, but are there not such elements in all of us? of course there are, and it is how rourke uses them in creating his character that makes it feel so true and honest.
i really liked this film when i saw it and i like it even more now that i have sat with it and thought about it over the last few days. it is a simple story, but a very engaging one that doesn't all work out in the end the way one might expect, or even want, but it does work out the only way it really ever could have, which is the way it should be.