Monday, January 19, 2009

The Wrestler

Mickey Rourke won a Golden Globe for his performance as Randy "the Ram" Robinson in The Wrestler. And he deserves it--you never doubt that Rourke, as Randy, has not lived this life. As a professional wrestler past his prime making a living in the local VFW hall circuit, we witness the punishment Randy puts his body through, the minutiae of maintaining his image, the humbled struggling in making ends meet with unreliable income, and we are immediately invested. As Randy clings to his success in the 80s, abusing his body in the process, we are encouraged and hopeful when he tries to make a go leading a regular life, but end up witnessing a man who cannot cope with the life and disconnection caused by the decades dedicated to the Ram's persona and success. A moment of comic relief reflects Randy's devotion to the past when he invites the neighbor boy to come over and play Nintendo. The system is Nintendo 64 and the game is laughably outdated, featuring a pixelated version of wrestling featuring his own character, the Ram, in the game. The boy starts talking about the latest game he's playing, "Call of Duty 4", and Randy has no idea what he's talking about.

There is a parallel story in his love interest, Cassidy, a stripper played by Marisa Tomei. (I have to digress to say that every teen girl should see Marisa Tomei in this movie to at least to grasp that a woman in her 40s can have a gorgeous body, which Tomei nakedly exhibits a lot, without a ridiculous boob job.) As a stripper, Cassidy relies on her body as well, to get by and eke a living. The difference is while his body goes through physical punishment, Cassidy suffers humiliation through the nasty comments about her age as she tries to ply lap dances from obnoxious customers in their 20s. Cassidy and Randy are both conscious that they cannot rely on such careers forever but both cannot cope for the most part, of their professional lives merging with or intruding on their regular lives.

"The Wrestler" is great--well directed with a strong cast. If you cannot relate to the Wrestler's struggles--someone desperately clinging to a happily successful period of one's life--you can at least understand it and will be moved by the Wrestler's story. Another plus for me--as a girl growing up in West Trenton, New Jersey--identifying locations made me smile, including the hospital where my daughter was born. Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, holla!


Anonymous said...

I'm definitely seeing it. I can't bellieve it has RWJ in it.

Tomb said...
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