Saturday, May 17, 2014

Indie Review: The Wrestler

                             An Emotionally Raw Drama That Really 'Wrestles' With Your Heartstrings

                    As I always say, art comes in many forms and sometimes is used to entertain us. But here we have a film that gives us a look at an artist that suffers for his art and does it in such a brilliant yet disturbing way.

                  The Wrestler follows an aging wrestler named Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) who finds himself in a difficult point in his life as he struggles to make ends meet and finds his health failing. His only comfort is that of an aging stripper named "Cassidy" (Marisa Tomei) who he slowly develops romantic feelings for. Along the way, Randy tries to reconcile with his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) who is bitter about him leaving her.

                 What I Liked About It:
                First off, I'll discuss the brilliance that is Mickey Rourke's performance. He really commands the screen and with a rather quiet intensity. Rourke does play the character's softer side very well yet he isn't afraid to show us his rather unsympathetic side. Marisa Tomei is also excellent as Cassidy and similarly to Rourke, gives a rather restrained performance as she plays a character who struggles to open her heart to a man who she views as a customer. Both of them got Oscar nominations for their performances and they were well-deserved. Evan Rachel Wood has a shorter amount of screen time than Rourke and Tomei, but she really makes the most of it as she conveys her character's anguish and torment and makes you realize why her character is so bitter towards her father.

               Another thing I really liked was the direction from Darren Aronofsky. I liked how he shoots it very realistically and uses long takes a lot. The way he shoots it is almost similar to the way he shot Black Swan, but that makes a lot of sense since this film is a companion piece to Black Swan and vice versa. Both this film and Black Swan were originally going to be molded together into one film, but in my opinion, it wouldn't have worked since this film has a bit more of a realistic dramatic feel while Swan has more horror elements. But both films do give quite an insight into artists who suffer for their art.

                One thing I actually noticed was how both Randy and Cassidy wear clothes and have apparel related to 80's bands and talk about how much they love 80's music. I feel that plays into a theme of these two characters being stuck in the past. Both are way past their prime as Randy is trying to relive his glory days while Cassidy continues with her profession despite her age and the fact hardly anyone sees her nowadays. So they are both stuck in the past completely. I'll admit, I did like the 80's soundtrack for the most part and it was interesting how it was weaved in to such an artistic film.

                 What I Didn't Like About It:

                Overall, The Wrestler is a raw and realistic drama that will have you caught in a "wrestling ring" of emotions up until the final scene. Its acting is honest and brilliant, its direction is flawless, and the whole film itself is flawless. I'll just say this right off the bat, the film is very dark so I don't know if it'll be for everybody, but if you like to study film or are a fan of Aronofsky and his work, I would put this high on your watch list.

Grade: A+