"The Wrestler" strong arms 5 Red Vines for making me fall in love with a wrestler
Wrestling's just not my thing. For real entertainment you should have read the letter I fired off to the Sci-Fi Channel when it started showing ECW. I can't tell you how ticked off I was-still am-that one of my favorite cable channels has strayed so far from its genre. But I'd heard lots of buzz about Mickey Rourke's performance in "The Wrestler" and was anxious to see it. The praise was not misplaced. Mickey gives the performance of a lifetime in a movie that's about being an old junk yard dog as much as it is the world of wrestling.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, "The Wrestler" begins 20 years into the successful career of wrestler Randy 'The Ram' Robinson. No longer on the professional circuit, the aging, ailing wrestler still battles on in independent bouts at smaller venues. But years of head banging have taken its toll and now 'The Ram' must try to re-invent himself just to keep a tin roof over his head.
Mickey breathes so much life into this role that he grabs your very soul in a Full Nelson. Combined with Darren Aronofsky's penchant for hand held camera realism, you will get so lost, you soon forget it's a movie and think you are watching a documentary.
Playing his female equivalent as down and out stripper Cassidy, is Marisa Tomei. You might be initially shocked by Ms. Tomei's nudity, then get sidetracked by thinking how good she looks! But in the end it is her sympathetic performance and wonderful chemistry with Mickey that will linger long after you've left the theatre. These two characters might not be the kind of people in your world-wrestlers and strippers but at their core they have all the dashed hopes and dreams and pride as any fine upstanding citizen. Maybe even more.
Evan Rachel Wood as 'The Ram's' estranged daughter makes the absolute most of her few scenes. She will break your heart as much as her dad breaks hers. Rounding out the cast is an assortment of character actors and real wrestlers. All of them add to that feeling of reality that is impossible to shake and a marvel to behold. Through Mickey's interaction with them you will be amused, touched and ultimately devastated by the raw emotional connection and identification with 'The Ram'.
Yeah. I'm no fan of wrestling. But 'The Wrestler" will not find a bigger fan than me.
LADIES ROOM LOWDOWN: I had the extreme pleasure of having lunch with Darren Aronofsky and his leading lady, Marisa Tomie. (Take that George Costanza!) It was a real treat to pick the brain of the man behind 'Pi" about his latest masterpiece. I was particularly curious to learn how he pulled off the realism and learned that he shot the film in 35 days by going to real venues, with real wrestlers and fans as his backdrop. And Marisa's secret to a hot body at hers or any age? The Hula Hoop!! Don't be surprised if she pops up on QVC selling her own brand someday!!