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The Wrestler

Love. Pain. Glory. 

Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Darren Aronofsky 
Starring: Mickey Rourke Marisa Tomei Evan Rachel Wood  
An image from The Wrestler

Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson (Rourke) is a retired professional wrestler whose glory days are long gone. Way past his prime, he struggles on by working in small wrestling shows and as a grocery store employee, despite his wishes to get back in shape for one final showdown with his former rival. Outside the ring he struggles to reconcile with the daughter he abandoned in childhood, Stephanie (Wood), and falls for a stripper named Cassidy (Tomei). But is it too late to build family bonds, never mind face his arch-nemesis?

Rourke has never been better in this touching tale of a man at his wit’s end. His emotive performance could be considered as the comeback of the decade; his own turbulent life made him an inspired casting decision. His character is so filled with regret and hope at the same time that the audience would find it hard not to engage with his story. Wood does well as his estranged daughter and the supporting cast strengthens the story and allows for Rourke to stand out.

Despite the rather simple nature of the plot, The Wrestler has more depth than one would expect from a film centered on the seemingly less-than-serious world of professional wrestling. Aronofsky gives the audience an insight into a sport that most would deem laughable but that actually puts its participants under more physical and emotional stress than many other more ‘respectable’ sports.

A sign of a great film is that it gives you a new, striking and believable view of one of life’s accepted practices; The Wrestler certainly delivers on this front. This coupled with great performances, especially from Rourke, and the film quickly becomes a must-see. It goes highly recommended to anyone in search of a truly moving and profound story with an original setting.

Julia Huntenburg

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)