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The Wrestler

As I mentioned in my last post, I saw the Wrestler this weekend, the story of an over-the-hill professional wrestler named Randy Robinson. This was an incredible movie. The mere fact that someone made a poignant, thoughtful movie about a professional wrestler is enough to earn it kudos.

It was a very emotionally involving movie. This is rarer than you might think. Most movies either have clumsy, sometimes unintentionally humorous attempts to evoke emotion or are so afraid of phony emotion they avoid any attempt whatsoever. The Wrestler avoids both of those pitfalls. I don't  remember when I have seen a movie with so many moments of sheer delight AND moments of heartbreak.

An example of the former can be found early in the movie where Randy  is sleeping in his van and some young boys come along and start banging on the door. He comes out, yelling "Who woke me up?" and starts tussling with all of them. I laughed and laughed, even though it wasn't especially funny. I just laughed from delight, the way a small child does. I have never experienced that in a movie before.

I mentioned heartbreak. Randy is a flawed man who has created a lot of pain for himself and burned a lot of bridges. He is also likable enough to make you empathize with him,  in spite of  knowing full well he bought his pain on himself. Scenes where he attempts to reconcile with his estranged daughter are especially touching. It was Niagra Falls for me. I mentioned to a couple of people after seeing the movie that "Brians Song" is no longer going to be the official movie that makes men cry.

The movie's honesty is a huge part of what makes it so effective. There are no easy epiphanies, and Randy never learns anything about himself he didn't already know. He doesn't "grow". The denoument is satisfying because it  involves Randy making the best of what he is, not turning over a new leaf.

I am glad that Mickey Rourke got an Oscar nomination for best actor, but I am appalled this wasn't nominated for best picture. I'll admit I haven't seen any of the other nominees, but I can't believe they are better than this flawless and engaging film.


I can't wait to see it. With the exception of "The Fountain" Aronofsky's movies have thrilled and amazed me.