Saturday, March 21, 2009


The Wrestler is a remarkable feature film. The Coles attended a screening last evening at Gloucester’s compact and bijou Guildhall Arts Centre cinema. Mickey Rourke plays washed-out grappler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson magnificently. His greatest days behind him, Robinson clocks into a New Jersey supermarket during the week, donning latex at the weekends in order to wrestle for a few bucks in smaller and smaller arenas. This is a bleak but somehow uplifting feature. The fellow’s depressing life is laid bare; from trailer park austerity to the despair of ruined relationships to low-life associations (Robinson’s love interest is a similarly past-her-best lap dancer) there is little to truly celebrate here apart from the warming camaraderie of his fellow wrestlers (a great bunch o’ lads) and the unbridled affection of a dwindling but obsessive fan base. Years of steroid abuse have taken their toll on the eponymous hero and the resulting chronic ill health dominates the second half of the film. However, apart from the uber-violent scenes of staggeringly vicious ring-based mayhem (staple guns and barbed wire anyone?), it is the small details that compel throughout. The closeness of the camera to Rourke throughout the feature captures a gamut of emotions and feelings from extreme pain to incomparable courage to ironic resignation often underpinned with the uncomfortably vivid heavy breathing of a chronically unwell man. A mixture of the brutal and unexpectedly beautiful, this is a wonderful film. Recommended without reservation.

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