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THE WRESTLER, 2008
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THE WRESTLER
Movie Review
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:A drama centered on retired professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson as he makes his way through the independent circuit.

REVIEW:

There's a moment in The Wrestler when the main character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, says to his daughter. "I'm just a broken down piece of meat."

And that's what Randy is, a broken down piece of meat in the wrassling business.

The 1980s were prosperous for a lot of people in the United States. But as the world moved onwards, it seems a lot of people were left behind. They are still living in the present world, but their heart and soul is back in the past. The Reagan years! Capitalism takes people in and gives them a lot of gifts (good and bad) if you have a lot of demand. But when that demand leaves you, it spits you out and you are left wondering what happened.

"It all was going good, until Cobain fucked it all up." says "The Ram"

Kurt Cobain, the 90s symbolism of independence. Whereas Randy "The Ram" is a wrestler working inside of a system. The system of wrestling. It's a perfect setup that hit the jackpot in the 80s where Randy was a star. But like many artists and athletes, that star will wane as you age and/or when your gifts are no longer the same. You think the sex, drugs, partying and great job will be there forever and the money will be too. Then you wake up and you're like Randy. A lonely man who really doesn't know who he is. Randy didn't realize that he wasn't really the star, but the wrestling system created was. And there's always someone coming up the ladder who will take his spot.

Randy loves the cheering from the fans as he performs That's his main drug. What is sad is that Randy doesn't realize that the fans aren't cheering him, but the invention that has been created. If he doesn't take the insane hits and do the twirls and twists in the ring, then they will on turn on him in a nano-second.

He's a broken down piece of meat. And when the meat is dead, there is no more cheering.

To make money, Randy works at a grocery store. The parallel being that its a place that serves the customer, just like wrestling. They like you when they serve you, but when you don't have what they want then they go somewhere else. He's stuck behind the deli counter. The irony being that he's serving the meat for the customers. Dead meat. No cheering the deli guy.

What do strippers and wrestlers have in common? They have alias names and are called that name more than their real name. Imagine being called Ralph for 20 years at your job when your real name is Dave. After awhile you think your name really is Ralph. That's Randy's (real name Robin) connection with Cassidy (real name ?), the stripper he tries to form a friendship (or more) with. They are both lost souls who have forgotten who they are. They are both performers for money and are both 'pieces of meat'. Cassidy's looks will go away with age and she knows that her time is coming, just like Randy's. Where do you go from there?

Another relationship the lonely Randy tries to obtain is one with his estranged daughter. He was too busy living 'the life' back in the day to really be a father and wants to make it up. You know this is a tragedy right from the beginning.

To connect, Randy takes her to an abandoned Casino off the lake. A place they once came together when she has a little girl. But back then this area was vibrant and full of life. Now it's a building that barely stands up and everything worth of any value is gone from the place. All that's left is damage. Just like their relationship. They both want to heal it, but it can't be healed. They are both trying to fool themselves, just like Randy is fooling himself with the crowd's cheering.

The Wrestler is just a lost cause and he knows it. A broken down piece of meat. And like many of us, we like to fool ourselves more than face reality. Randy doesn't want to be convinced of reality anymore because it's just too painful.

The faint hope in The Wrestler is Cassidy. But the question is is she someone strong enough?

Bottom line, The Wrestler is a very good movie. But it's definitely not an enjoyable one. There are funny moments, but they are really more sad than funny if you really take a look at it.

One of the funniest moments in the film is when Randy wakes up in a 80s retro home after a night of partying with a groupie type of girl. He doesn't like this version of the 80s and gets out of dodge so he can go back to his trailer home where his version of the 80s still exists. The Nintendo, AC/DC poster and of course the American flag hanging over his bed.

Director Darren Aronofsky really nails of the tone of The Wrestler. 90% of the movie is filmed in hand-held, so we can get really close and inside of our main and supporting characters. In the ring, we experience Randy's external pain as he takes vicious punishments. And outside the ring, we experience his internal pain. And no wonder he rather be inside of the ring than out!

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Because of his directorial style, it's like we smell what Randy smells like. Bad meat. I literally could smell that bad smell when watching it in the theater. And that's what you call great directing.

I learned a lot watching this film. There's a lot to it. The Wrestler to me is a film about the downside of The American Dream. Randy is lost and will never come back. So don't expect one of those final act, last match triumphs. It's just not one of those films.

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