Darren Aronofsky is a craftsman when it comes to engaging and immersive experiences. There is a realism that his projects embody that is consistent through and through. Everything from the script and story, the shots, the editing flow, and casting all come together to bring a unique experience for the viewer. The Wrestler is no exception if this masterful approach to film.
The Wrestler follows Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a famous wrestling figure from the 80’s, as he finds his place in a world that has forgotten him. His life has transformed from fame into one that is more depressing and seeking companionship. Everything from his housing situation, an unfulfilling and demeaning job at a supermarket, loneliness, and estrangement from his only daughter all weigh on him when he is outside of the ring. The only steadfast and driving force in his life is wrestling. Only now he wrestles in local New Jersey gyms and other small venues. He is also willing to participate in more violent and grotesque wrestling that results in a scene that would make an Aronofsky film seem off kilter if it was omitted.
The wrestling that is depicted in the film seems to be an honest portrayal of professional wrestling (and not the kind you see in the Olympics). The wrestlers in the film are real wrestlers and the rituals, preparation, and execution in the ring have an authenticity to them that, literally, bleeds through. Even though the fights are pre-determined and roughly choreographed, the final product in the ring is painfully real and anything but fake.
The casting done in this film is spectacular. The main cast, Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood, provide exceptionally professional performances. Mickey Rourke fits into the role perfectly, with his own history in boxing. Marisa Tomei looks great and plays an excellent counterpart to Mickey Rourke. She is guarded, understandably, and vulnerable, also understandably, as she struggles to face with her fading career and her next step in life. Evan Rachel Wood’s role is small in terms of on screen time, but every second is powerfully emotional and integral in the development of the story. Even Todd Barry makes his mark as The Ram’s demeaning supermarket boss.
It is difficult to know your path in life and where it may take you. The one thing that The Ram had going for him was that he knew his path. Even when it took him into dark and lonely places it was still the only path that seemed right to him and gave him meaning. Another great film from one of the best contemporary directors and creators of film.
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Cinematography: Maryse Alberti
Written by: Robert D. Siegel
Music by: Clint Mansell
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Todd Barry
Runtime: 1h 49m
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures