The Wrestler chronicles some events in the life of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a professional wrestling superstar of the 80s, who is well past his prime and now wrestles on weekends for various independent wrestling promotions. The title credits of the movie show us various snippets of The Ram’s past glory with newspaper clippings, TV show scenes, etc, which serve to remind us that The Ram was not a wrestler to be messed with during his prime. In fact, some of these vintage moments actually remind of Hulk Hogan and his Hulkamania days, well, at least some bits of it. The fact that I am a fan of professional wrestling, particularly of the WWE made these credits a little nostalgic for me.
In any case, the movie takes up where The Ram is now wrestling for peanuts on weekends, and during the weekdays, he has a job at a supermarket where he does odd jobs to keep the rent and bills paid. During some nights though, just to get rid of his loneliness in life, he goes over to a strip club, where he has a soft corner for a stripper named Pam (Marisa Tomei, in a nice role), stage named Cassidy. Now Cassidy herself is facing a career crisis, due to her age which has waned her beauty, and consequently her appeal with her clientele.
Life is going on as usual for The Ram with his wrestling, supermarket job and visits to the club. But then his increasing age, and his usage of steroids to be able to keep his muscles gleaning and nice for public display end up taking its toll on his interiors. He suffers a heart-attack immediately after a ‘hardcore match’ in one of his events. This necessitates a bypass operation and The Ram is told by his doctor that his heart cannot support any more steroid usage or for that matter even wrestling. This forces Randy to cancel his upcoming 20th anniversary match against the Ayatollah, and take up a full time job working at the supermarket’s deli counter.
In a moment of weakness, he talks about his estranged daughter Stephanie to Cassidy. Cassidy then suggests that Randy make up with his daughter and get back on talking terms with her. Taking this suggestion, Randy makes up with his daughter and they agree to meet for dinner on the coming weekend.
Cassidy’s rejection of Randy’s advances disappoints him and one thing leads to another, and Randy ends up missing the weekend dinner with Stephanie. This leads to Stephanie angrily telling him how he has never been and could never ever truly be a father to her. She also forbids him from meet her again. All of these incidents coupled with the fact that the supermarket customers start recognizing him as The Ram lead to Randy losing his cool with the entire situation and getting back into wrestling again.
What happens at the end of the movie is for you to see and come back here and comment about.
There were lots of things which I liked about this movie and I shall list down a few of them here. As stated earlier, most of my teenage sports viewing revolved around WWE wrestlers and the various Pay Per View events conducted by them. So I intuitively have a decent understanding of the business itself and to some extent the lives of these wrestlers. This movie therefore helped me reinforce some of my beliefs about professional wrestling and the wrestlers themselves. This movie therefore was a must watch for me anyways.
Mickey Rourke as The Ram beautifully portrays the fall from grace of a hugely fan-favorite wrestler to an old man whose body simply refuses to co-operate with him. The absolute lack of respect that he encounters in the world outside the ring is also depicted very well in the movie. This probably is why all the old wrestlers keep coming back to the ring time and again, if not for serious matches, at least for the odd public appearance. I guess the ‘squared circle’ is probably the only place in the ring that they feel most comfortable in.
Marisa Tomei in her role as the ageing stripper completely blows viewers off their feet, both with her oozing sensuality, as well as with her portrayal of a caring mother and a friend to The Ram. In fact, she plays a reasonably pivotal role in The Ram’s life by getting him back in touch with daughter, albeit for a short period of time.
Overall I personally believe that no director can make a better movie about professional wrestlers that Darren Aronofsky has with this particular movie. He captures the human side of a professional wrestler and his life so well that this pretty much becomes a ‘must-watch’ movie for anybody who likes wrestling and wrestlers.
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