Marisa Tomei and Mickey Rourke try to find solace in each other in "The Wrestler." (Fox Searchlight)
Randy "The Ram" Robinson is a beaten man. Literally. He has spent his adult life being thrown around a professional wrestling ring.
And he's apparently loved it. But now time is turning against him. Once a major star, he's been reduced to local exhibits in school gyms so he can eke out enough money to pay for his wreck of a trailer.
The partying, the pain, the way he has attacked life and it has attacked back have left his face a mess, his body an over-muscled compendium of aches and his personal life a shambles.
Yet still he dyes his long hair blond, still he dons the spandex tights. He can't let the dream die. He has nothing else.
"The Wrestler," starring a ferocious Mickey Rourke and directed by Darren Aronofsky ("The Fountain"), isn't a big film. It's a close character study, a portrait of a man who has relied on his body for a living faced with the inevitable physical betrayal of time.
Not much really goes on. Randy tries to face the facts and get a straight job. He tries to connect with a stripper (Marisa Tomei) who also finds age working against her. And he tries to re-establish his relationship with his long-estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).
None of it goes right. How could it? Randy "The Ram" is used to being a god, living above the concerns of mortals. He's used to adulation. He's used to being big and beautiful and outside the norm.
Rourke is sensational in the role; there's no separating his own squandered stardom from Randy's, but there's also no denying the power he brings to the screen. And both Tomei and Wood are outstanding in well-carved roles.
If you compete, eventually you lose. With uncommon intelligence and brutal honesty, "The Wrestler" examines the cost, and need, of battle.
More Tom Long
- It is still a man's world, at least in today's Hollywood
- Review: Classic villain gives ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ a big boost
- Don’t forget to check out the indies of summer
- Review: ‘The Great Gatsby’ goes big but comes off too cool to connect
- Summer movies full of high anxiety
- Review: 'Iron Man 3' follows the man behind the mask
- Review: Robert Redford's ‘The Company You Keep’ is a solid tale of two generations