Friday, May 7, 2010
The Wrestler is a complicated, balanced, but ultimately sympathetic examination of the wrestling profession and one man who makes his living in it. Regarding the profession, one thing especially struck me: although in scene after scene we're shown that most aspects of professional wrestling are fake, the injuries certainly aren't. In fact, I started thinking that there would likely be a lot less injuries if there was less choreography and showmanship in the matches and more actual wrestling. Another memorable scene showed a sad assemblage of broken-down wrestlers (some in wheelchairs) at a sparsely attended autograph-signing event. I really felt bad for those guys during that scene, and clearly, so did the movie.
Mickey Rourke's character is flawed but mostly likable, a man who loves his profession even though it really hasn't taken care of him as much as it should have over the years. However, his misplaced devotion to wrestling is likely responsible for his hurts and failures outside the ring, especially his longtime estrangement from his daughter. In his view, of course, wrestling is the only thing that hasn't hurt or disappointed him, and the only thing that's given him consistent joy.
The movie is raw, adult, and often hard to watch. But it's also intimate and sweet. You certainly don't have to be a wrestling fan to get something out of this simple yet surprisingly involving film.
The Wrestler looks and sounds fine on standard DVD. The image is a little dark and slightly grainy, but I'm sure those are intentional contributions to the mood of the piece. There are no extras on the DVD I watched.