The wrestler and striptease
By Ramawatar Sharma
There are three professions everybody takes a low view about but almost everyone loves to watch in privacy - professional 'fake' wrestling, striptease and pole dancing.
In 1980s there was a professional boxer Randy "The Ram" Robinson. He was immensely popular - fans worshipped him, he had his own Nintendo game, posters and "Best of the Ram" VHS series. Outwardly, it was a grand life but Randy was a broke all through his life. He survived doing petty jobs and there, too, was paid lowly and nobody recognized him and a few derided him.
Director Darren Aronofsky picked the story of Randy's life and scripted a movie out of it. He selected Mickey Rourke to play the role of Randy and it proved to be the perfect choice. Perhaps, nobody else could have played this role so intensely and realistically. Rourke had the perfect body, the deep, shrill voice, gait and boxing experience and he has proved worthy of some extraordinary performances. "The Wrestler" is actually Mickey Rourke's film - a powerful statement of his acting talent. His friendliness with co-players, trying to survive the extreme hate of his neglected daughter, his repentance of his unintended mistakes - all played with perfection.
And then there is a striptease girl with whom Randy spends his time whenever he has some money to spend. She is a sophisticated woman with her money and ethics of working. She likes Randy but not his status as a broke person. Marisa Tomei gives a power-packed performance, both in body language and depth of expressions. Evan Rachel Wood plays a small but significant role of a neglected daughter of boxing legend Randy.
The credit of recreating a lively story out of an ordinary life should go to director Aronofsky who has also directed films like Requiem for a dream, Black Swan and Pi. He has peeled the makeup off the glamour world of professional wrestling and striptease pole dancing, laying bare the underlying misery, bitterness, bankruptcy , substance and steroid abuse. Though almost always "fixed", the wrestling matches still are very dangerous and damaging to the players.
To create dramatic effects, boxers often harm themselves and pay big prices for the same. But there are so many human angles as well. Out of ring, there is camaraderie amongst the players and Randy himself shows a lot of grit and willpower. Though defeated in personal life, he returns to boxing ring again and again even though he is paid very lowly during the decline of his popularity. Director Aronofsky brings out this zeitgeist superbly. The Wrestler is the best film on wrestling to date and may find a place among some lists of two hundred best films ever.
The film was released in December 2008 and is perhaps amongst the first few top of the charts films of that year. It runs 109 minutes. The story was written by Robert D. Siegel.