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The Wrestler : Movie Review

February 5, 2009

Title: The Wrestler

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei

Genre: Drama

Director: Daren Aronofsky

Written By: Robert D.Seigel

Wins: Best Actor, Best Song (Golden Globe), Golden Lion (Venice Film Festival)

Oscar Nominations: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress

What is it that we want from our lives? What’s that one thing which is closer to your heart more than anything else? What is it which brings in an element of peace into our life? To quantify and be able to answer all these questions without pausing would mean, either you have lived your share of life or you are still at the nascence of a journey called “Life”. The debate on this basic principle that we are too confused to know exactly what we want gives shape to a compelling story called “The Wrestler”, written by Robert D. Siegel and directed by Darren Aronofsky.

The Wrestler” narrates the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a professional wrestler who was in his prime form back in the 80’s. Twenty years later, he’s down and strained every muscle of his body, but continues to wrestle during weekends to earn some extra money for his living. And the rest of the week he devotes himself working in a store where he begins to question his purpose of life. Dejected with the status quo of his life, Randy accepts the proposition of a “20th anniversary” rematch to his opponent, thinking that it will help him get back to his groove. Addicted to steroids and straining himself beyond limits, Randy suffers a life-threatening heart attack days before the rematch. When he’s told by the doctors that he cannot wrestle again, Randy begins to trace back the dots in his life and realizes what he has been missing and how he was on the road to oblivion….

At the very outset it may seem to be like “Rocky Balboa”, but it’s much more than that. Rocky Balboa glamourises everything, but “The Wrestler” is a tale of loneliness, isolation, tragedy, pain, desparation…The streets are deserted, the people around Randy are either way too annoying or there’s just no one to talk to…the only person Randy manages to befriend is Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), a stripper at a local club. The story also brings some of our darkest fears to life. Questions like, what happens if there’s no one around to share your feelings? What if you are living a life which is devoid of a purpose..a meaning? What happens when you realise how lonely and depressed you have been all your life? , are bound to intrigue while watching this movie. The problem is, we the people, realise what has been happening to us too late. While some manage to tie the broken threads, others end up searching for the answers all their lives. No matter how hard we try, a sense of depression and alienation will creep in if there’s no one around to talk to. You need someone. You DO.

Mickey Rourke as Randy “Ram” Robinson crafts a spell binding performance with his portrayal of a man who’s trying too hard to cling to life. We end up seeing the world and the environs exactly like Randy does and it’s hard not to empathize with him. He has been nominated for “Best Actor” role for this years Oscar. A well deserved nomination…he’s totally convincing in his role. Marisa Tomei, who plays the role of a stripper (Cassidy) pitches in a credible performance (also nominated for “Best Supporting Actress” at Oscars). Her subtle flipping between her feelings for Randy and the basic rules of her profession (Never date your customer) is yet another episode of how confused we are. The backstage conversations between Randy and the new wrestlers in the ring sheds some light on the actual behind the scenes drama of Wrestling Profession. While most of the moves are already scripted, the pain they endure to make things entertaining is humongous. Cutting oneself with blades, barbwires, staple pins, nails is definitely painful to watch, but from the film’s point of view it adds more credibility.

The cinematography is another thing worth mentioning…dribbling through confined spaces, it adds a lot more to the eeriness of the backdrop. A lot many scenes are just focused on Mickey alone and the cinematographer Maryse Alberti does well in capturing the emotions which Mickey goes through. Director Afronosky does a great job in telling the tale of Wrestling, the wrestlers, the backstage drama, the pain, the fall, the alienation which Mickey endures. One of my favourite scenes is the part where Mickey tries to finish the match with his signature move towards the end of the movie…painfully realistic!

Amazing performance by Mickey Rourke, great cinematography and direction are perhaps why you should watch this movie. Although this flick is low on entertainment quotient, but it scores a lot more on one thing which movies these days generally lack. It makes you think. Think about the life which you once dreamt, but has not turned out to be what you imagined. Think about those people whom you couldn’t spend time with. Think about those relationships which you didn’t bother about…think about the peace which you have always been looking for….think…thin…thi…th..t…..

(Republished from my post on

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2009 4:14 am

    I thought it was a really good movie! Rourke deserves an oscar

  2. March 30, 2009 12:09 pm

    Hello Hemanth,

    Stumbled upon ur blog.
    Got to read this review of my favorite movie of recent times. Your review is as amazing as the movie is!

    With that you have turned a stumbler into a regular reader of your blog 🙂

    • Hemanth permalink*
      March 30, 2009 2:23 pm



      thanks a lot! Am glad that you liked my reviews…read on!..:)

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