Alex Jackson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've put off watching The Wrestler for a long time because I honestly thought I wouldn't want to watch this kind of film. It never really appealed to me. I loved wrestling as a kid but didn't think there'd be much interest in a film about a washed up old dude reliving his glory days. How wrong I was.
The Wrestler pulls a lot of punches, and unlike the wrestlers in the film, they connect, and they hit, hard. Randy 'the Ram' hides behind a mask. But the mask isn't hiding who he really is, it hides what he wants from himself. There's a point in the second act, where the audience is hit with the false hope of a redemption. It's this teasing that makes it so much harder to watch the following descent into chaos. Aronofsky presents a man who's real identity, Robin Ramzinski, is no longer the true self. He has grown, or, devolved beyond that.
Time is an unstoppable, unrelenting, unforgiving force. It almost feels as though there is a bitter irony in Mickey Rourke being cast as The Wrestler. There are certainly some lines that could be drawn between both entities, but that's as far as I'll go into that discussion. Essentially, I can think of no actor more suited to the role than Rourke. He plays out his emotions on centre stage, just as The Ram did in his prime. Marisa Tomei puts in a great performance, but it fails to come close to the lead here.
Here, we have a film focused solely on plot. It is well paced, it doesn't drift, and it has a decisive end. The end is the only part I have an issue with. Not because I disliked it, but because I thought there would be some kind of redemption, some saving grace. To an extent, I think there was. Randy became immortalised. Forever.
Or at least until he's forgotten. Forever.
This was a moving, intensely emotional film. I'm disappointed I put it off for so long.
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