If you know me, you know I love me some Darren Aronofsky. So I was extremely excited to see that he had a new movie out, and that it looked like a return to Pi/Requiem form. Unlike the grandiose storybook of The Fountain, The Wrestler is an examination of the life of someone a little down on their luck.
The Wrestler in question, partially based on WWE champion Mick Foley, was once a star – he has action figures, is one of the characters in an old NES video game, and still has fans recognize him and ask for autographs. He hasn’t given up on dreams of getting back on top and spends weekends wrestling in the ‘independent’ circles. But here we also have the familiar tale of someone getting older and wondering what they had accomplished. What would they leave behind? And more importantly, who still cared about them? The wrestler, Randy “The Ram” Robinson, has estranged his daughter and the only real friend is the stripper who gives him lap dances.
It’s not all depressing. The kids in his neighborhood love to play around with him – when I was 8, that would have been a dream of mine, too – and the wrestlers he works with are still clearly in awe of him. But the desolation and emptiness in his life are evident. And it all rings true. Everything from the way he sloppily wraps his present, to the way he dresses, to his interactions with the minor characters just feels exactly right. And according to Mick Foley, it is.
What do I think was wrong about the movie? Not much, really. I quite like the cathartic endings of his previous movies, but anyone looking for the soul-killing finale of Requiem for a Dream won’t find it here. That’s a little dissappointing for a fanboy, but not at all detrimental to the movie. Some acting/scripting from a couple of the minor characters was a little awkward and their storylines a little rushed, but it didn’t really disrupt the flow of the movie.
In the end, the movie just felt so true it almost could have been a biography. An excellent, excellent film. Also.