LONG BEACH— It seems like about every ten years or so one of these movies comes out. The type that pulls you in, depresses you, and pushes you back out. The Wrestler did just that. But I found this one to be more tolerable than the previous.
I couldn’t help but think of Leaving Las Vegas when I was watching The Wrestler. There were similarities in both. Though the hero, or anti-hero, in The Wrestler is portrayed in a way that you become attached to him. I credit Darren Aronofsky’s directing and Micky Rourke’s acting for this. They did a fabulous job. But even still, you are there watching a man struggle in a less than glamorous life as he meets up with a female interest who also works in a less than glamorous vocation.
I cannot watch Leaving Las Vegas anymore. I have watched it, maybe twice but at least once. I enjoy a good beverage with my friends but that movie was so utterly depressing it almost drove me to total abstinence of the consumption all things liquid. And while Nick Cage did well in the movie, I did not care for it at all.
But this isn’t about Leaving Las Vegas. This is about The Wrestler. And The Wrestler is, at least in this comparison, better.
The story follows an aging, professional wrestler as he runs into a life threatening moment. He reflects on all that he has known and done from the glory days to the present. The path on which his lifestyle and choices have taken him. And what little meaning it all seems to have when facing the end match.
When Randy “The Ram” Robinson is struck with a life threatening crisis he is told he must give up the only thing he has known for the past thirty years. So he begins his search for redemption. Something or someone to love him unconditionally. The story follows The Ram as he seeks to make amends for all his past mistakes so as to rebuild his life; to develop a relationship with some one who will be there for him when he needs them.
You are introduced to The Wrestler as performer coming onto stage. The cinematic affect of this is perfect for this film. And while the free moving camera was difficult to adjust to in the initial scenes, the effect was necessary. As the film progresses the changes which occur in The Ram’s life are reflected in the angles on the screen. It was well done.
The story is heart breaking in some places and funny in others. The Ram seems to be a genuinely nice guy but he struggles with the personal relationships as they are less forgiving and more demanding than the professional stage relationships.
It is an emotional movie. And the more I think about it, the deeper and more revealing it becomes. But this movie is not for all. There are some hard to stomach scenes in this film. Some of which my wife was prepared to walk out on. And there was a lot of skin, to put it lightly.
I can see why this movie is critically acclaimed. I can see why there will be nominations for it in several categories. But, right now I’m on the fence as to its level of perfection in this years class of films. Slowly but surely I will see all the potential Oscar candidate movies. At the moment this is making a strong running for Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and possibly Best Screen Play. But we will see. There are a few left to watch.