January 16th: Fat Ballet

25. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008) #50 in IMDB top 250

Every now and again a role comes along that seems perfectly suited to an actor, a role that effectively mirrors their own life. In The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke has just such a role. Beaten and scarred ageing wrestler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson struggles to hold his life together, estranged from his daughter, struggling to pay his trailer home rent and finally told by doctors that he has to quit wrestling. Rourke has effectively lived this story over the past 25 years and his face tells the story. Generic plot aside, you’re watching for the performances. As convincing as Rourke is he’s matched by Marisa Tomei whose stripper with a heart of gold, Cassidy, is Randy’s only friend. The pair of them are commodities – their bodies are their livelihood but they can no longer depend on them as their age finally catches up with them.

I have to admit to being completely bemused by the English advertising for the film. It’s focused on the, admittedly well filmed, wrestling sequences. Without prior knowledge you could be forgiven for thinking that this was the focus of the film, thankfully it isn’t. The Wrestler is an excellent character drama with very genuine performances and a worthy awards contender.

Note – I also adored the fist-pumping 80s cock-rock soundtrack particularly ‘Balls to the Wall’ by Accept. But that might just be me.