To look at ‘The Wrestler’ and try and decipher any appeal towards it is reminiscent of experiencing the trailer for the upcoming ‘Jonas Brothers; the 3D concert Experience’ – there is little there of value, style or substance to convince that this film is for me. Furthermore, this is a film covering a niche genre and lead by protagonist Mickey Rourke, a forgotten star of Hollywood once labelled a ‘young Al Pacino’ which was produced on a modest budget approximating $7 million – rather like the films concept itself, it seems a wash out.
It is this connotation of doubt which makes this film a must see, it is the joint notion of sentiment and second chance that gives it such credibility and fundamentally, it is how the film exceeds and defies all expectations which makes it the surprise package of 2009 thus far.
It is a fairly simple premise as we are introduced to Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson (Rourke), An 80’s boxing phenomenon whose façade has ailed with both age and an overexposure to steroids over the years. He cuts a diminishing figure of a former hero who is past his career and following a vicious heart attack, is left with the unimaginable ultimatum that Wrestling will kill him if he chooses to continue.
We are immersed into Randy’s world so vividly underpinned by struggle and loneliness as he pursues a fresh start with his disinterested and aggrieved daughter (Wood), which is one of the many highlights along with the brilliantly humane performance from love interest Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) – a lap dancer also veering on the brink of has-been status.
The wrestling scenes are ferociously captured by fantastic cinematography which certainly brings light to the true nature of the wrestling world which, along with a deservedly award-winning performance from the rejuvenated Rourke, makes this film an unmissable spectacle for both Wrestling and Cinemagoers alike.