‘The Wrestler’ is Stunning

Lilianna Oustinovskaya

Meet Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson. Twenty years ago, Randy was at the height of his wrestling career, fighting ‘The Ayatollah’ at Madison Square Garden. Now watch as Randy works at a local store unloading trucks and eventually working the deli counter. Watch as he sits at the local strip club, Cheeques, drinking a cold one and remembering the good old days as Cassidy the naked stripper gives him a lap dance.

Randy, with his long, bleach-bottle-blond hair performs in local wrestling matches, trying to reclaim some of his glory. Watch as Randy, played with a raw sincerity by Mickey Rourke, sleeps in his truck after being kicked out of his trailer.His hair, up in a ponytail, exposes the hearing aid in his ear. Randy watches himself pumping a buffet of drugs and steroids into his body. That body, with its decades of war wounds, finds itself in the hospital.

Now meet Cassidy, the aging and tired stripper with a nine-year-old son. Watch as Randy tries to connect with not Cassidy, but Pam, the person behind the desperate stereotype. Cassidy, played with understated courage by Marisa Tomei, naked and exposed, similar to Randy in the ring, fights to stay relevant in a business that takes everything from them and leaves nothing in return. They take their respective stages, grasping futilely for something to replace the numbness.

Stephanie, played with brutal agony by Evan Rachel Wood, is Randy’s abandoned daughter whose birthdays he never remembered. Randy apprehensively attempts reconciliation with Stephanie on the sidewalk in front of her house, only to watch her yell at him and walk away. Then we see the strangers, father and daughter, sit and talk about all that wasn’t. We watch as Randy looks at his daughter and proclaims, ‘I am an old, broken down piece of meat,’ and we finally see.

Then we say good-bye to Randy, Cassidy and Stephanie. The direction, by Darren Aronofsky, succeeds at never letting the story escape into melodrama. The screen goes black and we see nothing but what we hear is Bruce Springsteen singing, ‘Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free? If you’ve ever seen a one trick pony then you’ve seen me. Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making his way down the street? If you’ve ever seen a one-legged dog then you’ve seen me. Then you’ve seen me, I come and stand at every door.’

Five out of Five Stars