This film fits very well with the others by Darren Aronofsky – slow and heartbreaking. Also very gory. It was rather interesting to see a film about professional wrestling, and a meaningful one at that, since it’s such a silly and cartoonish industry, not really quality film fodder.
I’ve never been a fan of professional wrestling, not since the early 90s when my brother practiced wrestling moves on me in a ring constructed of pushing two couches together. But in the film, I found the relationships between the wrestlers fascinating. So I hope that was accurately portrayed. They are obviously hurting each other, although not as badly as we think. They are displaying animosity towards each other, and taking revenge by beating the hell out of each other except… before and after the match, they pat each other on the back and compliment each other. It seems like a very twisted industry.
The film was very slow-moving, especially at the beginning. Much of the movie is taken up by showing how he lives and where he works and most of the early beginning is a tracking shot showing the back of his head.
This movie portrayed the hopelessness and sadness so well. And Mickey Rourke did the washed-up has-been strikingly well. The badly bleached hair, the leathery tan… What I also liked about the film is that while you liked the protagonist, you had very little sympathy when he messed up because, well, he brought it on himself.
He was a very lonely character. His daughter hated him, the only woman in his life was an ageing stripper, his boss was a complete tool and besides his wrestling buddies, his only other friend was a kid in the neighbourhood that politely played an old Nintendo wrestling game to humour him.
It’s a very bleak movie, but I expected nothing less from Aronofsky. No one expected a happy ending, but you kind of hope for one.
It’s not schmaltzy in its emotion, having caused me to only shed two or three tears. And while I appreciated the honesty of the context, it was kind of painful to watch.
So if you feel like something with honest but painful emotions, and you’re willing to live without a happy ending, go watch it.
My rating… 8
IMDb’s rating… 8.5 (number 59 on the top 250)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Pi)
Starring Mickey Rourke (Sin City, Nine 1/2 Weeks, Buffalo ’66)
Maria Tomei (My Cousin Vinnie, Untamed Heart, Four Rooms)
Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Across the Universe, Running With Scissors)