Thursday, January 1, 2009

Movie Review: The Wrestler

I woke up this morning and figured, its 2009, let's get things off with a bang and see one of the mostly highly praised movies of 08, so I set out to Bethesda to see The Wrestler. This is a movie that had interested me since I first saw the trailer on YouTube, but once it got a 98% on I knew that I couldn't pass it up in theaters. The movie centers around Randy "The Ram" Robinson, an aging professional wrestler struggling with the realities of life after stardom, he is broke, taking mass amounts of human growth hormones, living in a trailer park, and completely alone in life. Aside from his cult following in the underground wrestling world, The Ram is a forgotten man, and after a heart attack caused from the brutality of professional wrestling coupled with his steroid abuse, he contemplates retirement. Taking a job in a deli at a local grocery market, two of the best scenes of the movie take place, one showing Rourke on a high (a non-substance induced high, at that), he jokes with the customers and seems to be content with his job. Later, though, after he inevitably messes up with anyone who would potentially care about him, you see Rourke bitter and hostile. I won't spoil anything, but he eventually loses control, and such is emblematic of the highs and lows of a man once in the pantheon of American popular culture and now a tragic failure in life. I don't want to belabor the point because everyone is talking about it, but this movie was all about acting. The story was good. Not great, just good, but Mickey Rourke is deservedly getting all the Oscar buzz. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm disappointed, but, I almost wanted more... I wanted the story to move me and it didn't. I must say though, Marissa Tomei is getting a raw deal, because she was phenomenal in her role as an aging stripper/mother and some of her scenes with Rourke in the strip club were great. As for rating the movie, it really reminded me of a documentary-style film, a lot of the camera work even got me dizzy just from the camera shaking slightly following Rourke as he walks down the stairs and runs through woods but thanks to Rourke's completely believable performance, the style of shooting worked out brilliantly. I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. Some of the wrestling scenes, one involving a staple gun are really brutal to watch, but some of the best cinema you'll see if you're just into really raw, gritty films. I would recommend you see Benjamin Button first, but this is still a must-see because of the performances of Rourke, Tomei, and even Even Rachel Wood, who played The Ram's daughter.

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