Tag Cloud
1950s television Alsace animal behavior Asbestoses Bakewell Tart baking banana coconut upside down cake bananas Barefoot Contessa beach beans beauty beer can chicken Ben E King blueberry Book Review Boom De Ya Da Bradenton Florida cabbage cake canine lung worm carrot salad casserole cassoulet Celebrity Constellation Celebrity cruiseline cheese chicken chicken and dumplings chicken fricasse'e Chicken Salad chicken thighs chihuahua chocolate christmas pudding coconut commercialization of Christmas Condor Ferries contrived ignorance cooking video Cornwall COSTCO cottage pie couscous Cream of Tortilla Soup Cream Recipes cream teas crockpot croutons cruise ship menu cultural awareness current event Curry Dauphinoise Potatoes decorating desserts Dick and Jane Ding Dong School Dinner Discovery Channel diversity dog psychology dogs Easy Recipes eggs enamel coated cast iron English Cooking English trains Enzos on the Lake Epcot extrovert Fall Food Fast Easy Fresh Fennel Recipes fish florida food preparation France Frances Horwich French cooking fresh green beans Fresh Market fresh pasta fresh vegetables fruit tart gardening genital euphenisms George Pullman grandchildren greek yogurt grilling ground lamb ground beef guardian ad litem ham hocks Handicaps Havanese healthy food home decorating how to clean leeks I Have a Dream Ina Garten Indian food introvert Italian Cooking Italian Food IVIG Kix Cereal lamb lamb curry lamb palak lamb shahi khorma lamb shanks Lasagna leek and potato soup Leeks leftovers literacy love song low-carb main course Mallomars Marissa Tomei marriage Martha Stewart Martin Luther King Mary Oliver Meat Recipes meatloaf mental illness Michael Portillo Mickey Rourke Miss Frances modern omelet monkey bread Moroccan muffins Mushroom Recipes Mushrooms Nelsonian knowledge New England Style Cooking Nixon NY Times Obama one dish meal onion tart onions oscar nominated pack dominance pack leadership pakora parenting Parmesan Recipes pasta pate brisee Paula Deen peach cake Peeps peppermint bark photo photography photos pina colada monkey bread pineapple poached poem polish cooking politics poverty pullman dining car raspberries recipe recipes refrigerated rolls riding the rails roast chicken Rush Libaugh RV lifestyle salad Sally Field salmon Samsung Appriances Sand Hill Crane Sand Sculpture Sausage Recipes sausages Schizophrenia school children hear Obama speak self-perception shepherd's pie Siesta Key Florida snails souffle soup South Florida spaghetti squash Spinach St. Malo Stand By Me Whistle Blower summer meal sweet bread Taffy Tandoori cooking Technology Ted talks The Help theme park This Was the Week That Was Tin Can Tourist Tom Gross transatlantic cruise travel trailer tropical plants UK UK Guardian article urban blight Valentine's Day vegetables vegetaria video VIMEO viseo welsh terrier white blood cell count wild salmon Willful Blindness Willful Ignorance wood look porcelain tile World Showcase Youtube Youtube video zucchini Zuni Cafe Roast Chicken

« Stuffed Cabbage/Golabki | Let's Hear It For REAL Books »

The Wrestler

OK I admit a moth to the flame, I've always been attracted to the bad boys of film… the edgy, twitchy guys...Clive Owen, John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Jude Law in The Road to Perdition to name a few. For me it's not about looks, it's about that edginess. There is no bad boy more loved by me than Mickey Rourke. I fell in love with him in the film The Pope of Greenwich Village.

Sometimes life imitates art. In The Wrestler, art is imitating life. Mickey Rourke's real life is every bit as sadness evoking as that of the character he plays in The Wrestler, Randy Robinson. Rourke had very unsuccessful plastic surgery in the late 1990s and has had difficulty keeping his life from careening wildly about, making directors and producers leery of offering him roles. It’s sad. He’s talented. But, I think talent is like pretty…pretty is as pretty does…out of control talent is useless.


This movie is raw and brutal and gritty. I’m not just talking about the wrestling scenes which in and of themselves are difficult to watch. We meet one time wrestling circuit star Randy Robinson as he is not at all gracefully embracing his golden years. His glory days are gone, his body is giving out as much from lifestyle as from being slammed on the canvas and bounced off the ropes and he’s alone living in a rundown trailer park. He earns his living performing in B matches on the has-beens circuit, selling his autograph to old timers who might remember him from twenty years ago. Underneath all of this we see a core of kindness and gentleness still surviving in Randy. Rourke plays this role with such genuine insight and depth of feeling that I choose to believe that he and Randy are true alter-egos in every sense of the word.

Marisa Tomei is fabulous as Cassidy, an aging stripper with a nine year old son. Randy tries hard to get her to date him, a thing against the rules; lap dancers don’t date paying customers. Eventually she is drawn to his kindness and I think his true gentleness in the face of a brutal life. Tomei also turns in a really believable performance making the audience respect her wisdom and strength as we are mesmerized by a gritty life struggle that we can’t even begin to imagine.

In the end, this isn’t a movie one “loves” in the way one can love Gone With the Wind or The Sound of Music.  It’s too raw for loving. It’s a movie whose truth one can embrace, a movie whose humanity is the fundamental theme. All I’ve thought since I saw the movie is “there goes each of us if choices and circumstances in our lives had been different". I mean really, what’s the difference between a forty year old giving lap dances for her dollars to support her son and a forty year old face-lifted emotionally or physically abused golf widow staying in a rotten marriage to support her children? There is a scene in which Randy had re-established a relationship with the daughter he abandoned many years before. The daughter warily agrees to go out to dinner with him on Saturday. Randy starts his Saturday early by meeting a girl in a bar where they engage in bathroom stall sex, lots more drinking at her place and an evening of sex, indulging the girl’s fireman sex fetish. Needless to say, he misses the dinner date with his daughter who is devastated and once again severs her relationship with her Dad.

I know people like Randy, people who just can’t seem to learn from their past mistakes. They aren’t evil. They’re just incapable of “getting it.” It’s so easy to see strippers and dopers and homeless people as less human somehow, a sub-strata of society different from the rest of us. What happens to a forty year old stripper? Where does she go from there? Does she have a pension plan? There is a wonderful scene: The wrestler, at his supermarket day job, spends one afternoon working behind the deli counter. He's embarrassed at first, with his hair hidden behind a shower cap, but his gentle nature and good humor surface, and soon he's flirting, playing with customers and trying to do a good job. The scene shifts from a semi-comical odd juxtaposition to a vision of unsung grace, and one comes away thinking, "What a great soul" - and thinking also about other great souls, finding glory in hard or ridiculous places.

I guess the thing that stays with me after the movie is the very human fragility of the characters. They aren’t all that different than the rest of us. They want to love and be loved just like we do. They want to have regular lives just like ours, but somehow seem incapable of walking the path leading there. It is somehow beyond them, just beyond their understanding of how to get there. They aren’t bad people and in fact can often be quite likeable. They just seem perpetually lost.

If you like a happy ending, this isn’t the movie for you. If you can deal with life’s sometimes unpleasant underbelly and come away a more compassionate person for the experience, then this is the movie for you. It is superbly acted. I’ve seen Milk and leaned towards Sean Penn (another favorite Bad Boy of mine) to get the Best Actor Oscar. Now after seeing Mickey Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler, Rourke gets my vote. This isn’t a movie about wrestlers and strippers. It’s a movie about humanity.

Reader Comments (1)

I love Mickey Rourke too although I wonder at myself! Glad I'm not the only one. Can't wait to see this movie.

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteralisa

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>