By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Well, The Wrestler is the best wrestling movie ever made. I'm sorry, No Holds Barred, you've been topped.
Review: The Wrestler
I knew this portrait of an aging wrestler was accurate because it showed how nice he is to people. He's nice to fans who wait for autographs. He's nice to kids who wake him up in his van, even though it's a humiliating situation for him. That's how real pro wrestlers are. They're super nice and gracious.
Therefore I believe the portrayal of wrestlers behind the scenes too. They're all friends backstage, professional artists discussing the craft, giving each other opportunities to shine. They all show respect and affection to the old guard.
The film shows it's a hard performance, even for a small crowd. Drugs are a reality. I mean, no amount of natural workouts let you lift 300 pound guys night after night. Hair, tanning and buying supplies are also routine.
All the wrestler personas are believable. Obviously the WWE would never sign off on their actual likenesses for a movie like this, so they populate the world with characters who just as easily could have come from the days when it was WWF.
This wrestler is a man after my own tastes too. He loves his strippers, like genuinely. Nudity must be Marisa Tomei's thing now. This time you get to see her all tatted up with pierced nipples, if that's a fantasy for anyone (as if seeing Marisa Tomei naked in the first place was a fantasy that could be topped.)
The only weird artsy thing Darren Aronofsky does is shoot Mickey Rourke from behind a lot. That's just interesting. It means we can't really get in. Comparing the supermarket hallways to the stadium aisles is obvious but it works too. You get the message. The film may spell it out, but it's good stuff.
Rourke wins you over with his human interactions. He just seems so genuine with other people. He is a tragic character, though the film makes no excuses for his own mistakes. He's just a guy with limited abilities at the point where even those abilities are failing. Even if you don't buy that, it's a fascinating take on the industry.