The Wrestler pins every movie I've seen in the last 12 months. The main reason, three outstanding performances by a trio of terrific actors led by Mickey Rourke. Rourke plays a former grappling great, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, well past his prime. Scarred physically and emotionally by years of abuse, both in and out of the ring, "The Ram" looks for one last crowd-pleasing moment. And along the way he attempts to mend a broken relationship with his daughter Stephanie (played by the wonderful and striking Evan Rachel Wood), and start a relationship with a 40 something stripper (played by one of my favorites, Marisa Tomei). Yeah, I know, the premise is your standard Hollywood cliche but this film is anything but ordinary. I found myself really caring for (or was it feeling sorry for?) Rourke's character and the personal struggles he goes through.
"The Ram" suffers a heart attack which sends him into temporary retirement. He then finds himself working in a deli, which lends to some of the movies funniest, and most disturbing scenes. The ticking time bomb finally goes off in a very graphic scene that's hard to watch yet somehow you just can't turn away.
Some of the best scenes are the ones between "The Ram" and his daughter. And as good as Rourke is, he takes a backseat to Wood. She's only onscreen for about five minutes but those five minutes are some of the most powerful in the movie. I think it's safe to say the 21 year old has a very bright future on the big screen.
"The Ram" also seeks help from Pam, a stripper, to assist in the mending of his relationship with his daughter. She listens patiently to his woes, helps him pick out a gift for Stephanie, and oh, by the way, gives him a lap dance. It took a lot of guts for Tomei to bare all, but I think without that bit of reality it would have somehow compromised her character...and by the way, she looks incredible. In the end she realizes she's just like him, a piece of meat on display trying to somehow disguise the things lacking in her life.
A lot has been made of Rourke's appearance in this movie. He's incredibly buff, (makes you wonder how he got that way) and his face is battered...probably from his years as a real boxer in the early and mid 90's. That said, I'm not sure any other actor would have had the chops to play this role...in a way, "The Ram" is Mickey Rourke...their stories are very similar. Bottom line, you should see The Wrestler...and you should care.