I know some of you have seen this movie already, because I remember reading your blog posts about it. For those of you who haven’t, it’s the story of a has-been professional wrestler, Randy “the Ram” Robinson (played by Mickey Rourke in a great performance), who is still hanging on in the fringes of the business. At the same time, he’s dealing with all the damage he’s done to his body over the years, as well as the damage in his personal life, such as his relationship with his estranged daughter. Plot-wise, it’s pretty standard stuff. I doubt if there’s much in THE WRESTLER that will really surprise you. What makes it a fine film are the performances by Rourke and Marisa Tomei as the stripper who winds up as Randy’s reluctant girlfriend, along with the well-staged wrestling scenes. The sense of camaraderie among the wrestlers is very effective, too, and for a movie that’s fairly bleak overall, there are quite a few humorous moments. The set-up is maybe a little too long – we get it that professional wrestling is a brutal business – but not enough so to be a real problem. Overall, this is a very, very good film, and well worth watching.
On a personal note, there’s a great scene where Randy takes part in an autograph show at an American Legion post, but not many people show up. So you have about a dozen wrestlers sitting around at folding tables, bored, waiting for somebody, anybody, to come along and buy their autographs, their DVDs, their T-shirts, and as I watched it, I thought, “Hey! I’ve been at book signings just like that!” In fact, the whole movie, with its seediness and scrounging for jobs, with its characters clinging desperately to the hopes of either a big break or a big comeback, made me aware that being a freelance writer is a lot like being a professional wrestler . . . minus the blood and the broken bones, of course.