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THE WRESTLER by Darren Aronofsky

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The days of fame are long over for ageing wrestler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson (Mickey Rourke). Twenty years ago he was a famed champion, now he lives in a trailer, does odd jobs to pay the rent and lives for the weekends where he still wrestles for peanuts at local events. Estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), his only family are fellow wrestlers and his audience, and the closest thing to a relationship is his crush on stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) who works in a strip bar and whose appeal to the younger customers is waning. The chance for a big comeback seems over after a heart attack following an especially hard fight – upon the advice of the doctor, he quits wrestling and cancels his possible comeback match. Confronted with his mortality, Randy tries to rebuild his connection to his daughter and to woo Cassidy, but real life can be as tough as any fight in the ring.

Like in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, art imitates life in The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke was a hot movie star in the eightees (9 1/2 Weeks, Year of the Dragon, Barfly, Angel Heart) and then disappeared into obscurity – which makes him the perfect actor to portray the former wrestling superstar of the eightees who then fell into obscurity. Twenty years later, Randy gets the chance for a comeback, and so does Mickey Rourke. And what a comeback it is. The former pretty boy (and bad boy) has matured and breathes life into the sorry story of Randys’ life, a tale of a life wasted for vain glory in the limelight which becomes ever more shabby as time passes. Hooked on the lifestyle, the fame and the fleeting love of the audience, Randy neglects his family and ends up beaten, battered and alone after the glory has faded away. When he botches up his last chance to reconnect with his daughter, to establish a relationship with Marisa Tomei’s stripper Cassidy and to earn a living with an 8-5 job, he realizes real life is too tough for him and desperately risks everything for a comeback – it’s Glory or Death for Randy.
An equally ace performance is delivered by the lovely Marisa Tomei as ageing stripper Cassidy who was rightly nominated again for the Oscar in the Category Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.
Note to director and cinematographer: Take it easy on the wobbly-cam. It’s getting old since every movie that wants to feel real has it, but it’s still causing nausea to a lot of people!

Mickey Rourke is Randy 'The Ram' Robinson  Mickey Rourke is the Wrestler 
Marisa Tomei as Cassidy in The Wrestler  Marisa Tomei as stripper Cassidy in The Wrestler 

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