The Story: Randy “The Ram” (Mickey Rourke) is a washed-up professional wrestler working in a grocery store and wrestling at fan events. When the aging star suffers a massive heart attack and is told wrestling will kill him Randy decides to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). As his relationship with the girl starts on shaky ground he finds help from a stripper (Marisa Tomei) who understands where he’s coming from.
Pros: It didn’t make my list of 2008 Best Movies because I saw it late but if I could go back this would easily make the number two spot. The Wrestler is a poignant, heartbreaking film about growing older and finding a purpose in life once you’ve lost what you love. Randy is a wrestler, which is who he is and once that’s taken away from him what follows is a story of self-discovery and redemption. Director Darren Aronofsky crafts a beautiful and timeless tale that everyone can relate to and casts this film which actors who give the performances of their career. Mickey Rourke was nominated for a Best Actor award for this and the debate still rages on whether he should have won. While I loved Sean Penn in Milk, Rourke is truly the comeback kid. His portrayal of Randy is sweet, crazy and hilarious all in one. There can be scenes of violence but he imbues the character with enough humor and kindness that you love him no matter what, even if he’s blowing off his daughter at dinner. Rourke embodies Randy “The Ram” and at the end when he’s standing on the ropes at the big match you’re not only shedding a tear for The Ram, but also for seeing how Rourke devotes mind, body and soul to this character. Marisa Tomei can’t be forgotten though, even though she was nominated for Best Actress she was shut out by the “bigger” female stars. Here she’s a great counter to Randy; they have many similarities but are vastly different. Tomei is just as adorable as in a romantic comedy but she has a tough and streetwise nature that you see on the surface.
Cons: The only major con I still have is with Evan Rachel Wood as Ram’s daughter Stephanie. The role isn’t terrible and is in fact necessary for the events of the end but Wood is horribly miscast. When the young actress isn’t screaming she’s exudes no chemistry or anything that makes her memorable. It doesn’t help matters that Wood was still in the Marilyn Mason goth phase so she looks like a vampire.
Features: There is a Blu-Ray release with some featurettes about making the film and a roundtable interview with real professional wrestlers. On this standard DVD there are no features which is a shame as I would have loved a deeper knowledge of the budget and directing constraints Aronofsky was under. It doesn’t look like the Blu-Ray has a commentary which would be the best thing for a film like this. Since the movie is so spectacular this really doesn’t bother me and shouldn’t bother fans of this film, the movie is worth the price of the DVD.
Overall: The Wrestler is a phenomenal film that everyone needs to go out and buy on whatever format makes you happy. While the DVD doesn’t have any features the movie is worth it for the return of Mickey Rourke and an inspirational story. The Wrestler gets a 5/5 and the DVD gets a 3.5/5 (lack of features but the movie makes up for it).