Directed by Darren Aronofsky
The great truth of pro-wrestling which is lost to many, is that just because it's fake does not mean it's not real. If you get that, you'll get the Wrestler.
It's a fly on the wall character study, of a man both larger and several times smaller than his own life. An ex-champion wrestler now working the amateur circuits and working a day job to make rent on his trailer, glory years long spent, and career coming to a dismal close, who has to decide what to do with himself outside of the iron circle.
This film is akin to "Behind The Matt" the best documentary I know on the subject, where so many former kings of the wring are rendered as bruised bodies, travel ridden, and isolated from there families, fans, and selves, and still dedicated, to their calling of pretend, sometimes onto injury after injury and sometimes death. I was watching pay per view when Owen Heart died in the ring, from a entrance wire stunt gone wrong, so there's long been a smudge across my view of the "sports entertainment spectacle", which from walking to about 8th grade, I ate, slept, and in very small amounts bleed.
I mention that because this film captures everything sad and disillusioning about wrestling and just enough of some of what, in it's own, way makes it great.
Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomie work well together both showing their bodies in scantily clad tights to recycled 80's party metal, both too old for their young persons professions, both clingy mostly silently to whatever shreds of dignity they can muster for themselves, the same dignity, that eventually makes their relationship impossible.
Darren Aronofsky continues to make impressive films, that follow neither a studio nor a personal formula, each film is its own animal, and The Wrestler is no different.
And it ends exactly where it needs to end, from the top turnbuckle. If I hadn't grown up with this stuff I might have liked it less, but only slightly, the actors and the storytelling more than makes up for my nostalgia, but if you ever liked Wrastlin' see here, and if you like good casting, too.
"You ever seen The Passion, they whip him, beat him, throw rocks...everything at him. You see him get beaten for two hours, and he don't give in."
"...Sounds like a tough guy."