Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Wrestler Review

Went to see The Wrestler with Tommy Dynamite today. Jennings had told me weeks ago to get in my car and drive however long it took to see it right away, but this was my first opportunity to attend it here in Chapel Hill. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

I liked it. I thought the portrayal of what it's like to be in the world of independent wrestling was amazing--they really did their homework, and were dead-on (except for three minor points that didn't really matter, namely that Marisa Tomei never would've gotten backstage so quickly/easily at a big event, nobody should ever make a gig that big, and I've never heard of anybody getting a solo dressing room at a small event.) They really did capture the thrilling/depressing feel of what it's like to be in front of a crowd at a high school card, and then wandering back to your car past kids' crayon drawings while dragging your rolling suitcase behind you long after the fans have left and the high has left you.

I thought that the Rourke's portrayal of The Ram was amazing. I've met guys like him; former big stars now on their way down, having lost the big bucks and their youth and now ready to sacrifice anything just to please the fans. I can identify with that as well; I think we were supposed to hope The Ram would agree to go with Cassidy at the end and not walk through that curtain, but maybe it's my own wrestling sickness that just made it obvious to me what had to be done at that moment: the crowd were there to see The Ram take on The Ayatollah, and when your music plays, you've got to hit the ring. I was also nodding my head when The Ram was mounting the top rope for his finisher, and looked over to the empty spot in the curtain where Cassidy had fled. She's gone, all you have for sure is the ring and the show, gotta dive off the top and let the heart attacks fall where they may. He had to do it.

The opening sequence with the historical clippings was amazing; somebody put in a lot of effort to replicate the look of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its ilk. The Nintendo wrestling game moment was perfect. I could've done without the hardcore segment with Necro Butcher. Not that I don't like garbage wrestling, but I didn't think it advanced the plot in a useful fashion. If they had gone the route of showing that the former golden boy of wrestling had no choice but to take whatever booking he could, and was pressured into doing hardcore, that would've been good. Maybe in a director's cut?

I actually don't think I can judge whether this was an Oscar-level movie or not. I think I'm too close to the material myself. As far as replicating the real inner workings and atmosphere of smalltime wrestling, yeah, bang on, that was amazing. The story was touching, but I think I'm too close to that as well. Besides, I'm no movie artisan or supreme critic. But I did enjoy myself, and that's what's important.

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