In the early 1980’s, Mickey Rourke was a promising young actor
who seemed to have all the makings of a big star. However, for
many years he wrestled with his own demons and all but vanished from
the screen. Now he has re-emerged in a big way, earning critical
acclaim, including a Golden Globe award and Oscar nomination, as Randy “The
Ram” Robinson, an over-the-hill wrestler making a comeback in “The
Wrestler.” This is a case in which it’s difficult to
separate the film from Rourke’s own personal story. Where
does one leave off and the other begin?
Rourke certainly gives a courageous physical performance. His
50+ year old body is thrown around the ring, attacked with a staple gun,
barbed wire, and folding chairs, among other props. This is not
the polished world of big time glitzy professional wrestling that garners
big TV ratings and sells out arenas across the country with its larger
than life heroes and villains. Randy “The Ram” wrestles
in small arenas in the Northeast in front of small, loyal crowds. There’s
nothing pretty about this wrestling world. Yet it’s here
that Randy finds his only success in life, and ultimately, his redemption.
Randy has made a mess of his life. He lives alone in a trailer
in New Jersey, and drives (and sometimes sleeps in) an old beat-up van.
He works part time at a supermarket deli. When he suffers a heart attack
after a match, Randy decides to reconcile with his grown daughter (Evan
Rachel Wood). After a promising start, Randy sabotages this relationship,
as he has obviously done many times before.
Randy’s only other significant relationship
is a friendship with a dancer in a strip club, played by Marisa Tomei
in a fine Oscar-nominated performance.
As much as I wanted to like The Wrestler,
tough going. It is gritty and very raw, with a lot of nudity, drugs,
profanity, and, of course, the extreme wrestling violence. Be forewarned.
For a movie this sordid to succeed, it needs to
be extremely well directed, written, and acted. You have to have a reason to stick with it. For
me, the saga of Randy “The Ram” just did not do it. Certainly
I had some empathy for this man who continues to put his worn out body
through these rigors, even if they kill him. It’s the only
place he’s found any success in life. But there’s nothing
really new in “The Wrestler” to overcome all the obstacles. I
didn’t find the writing, direction, or production noteworthy. So
the only reason to see it is for the performances of Rourke and Tomei.
I hope the recognition Rourke received for his performance
helps to revitalize his career. Just don’t make me sit
through this movie again.
Tom Condon, OP
the recognition Rourke received
for his performance helps to revitalize
his career. Just
don’t make me sit through this movie again."
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting
classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic
content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association
of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying
parent or adult guardian.