This movie was so sad. Ugh, it ate at my heart in ways that I hate. It wasn't sad like The Reader was sad, it wasn't sad like Marley and Me or Bridge to Terabithia (in which I cried my eyes out, remember...) it was worse. It was sad in the way that Freaks and Geeks was sad, if you remember that show. Like how my high school class tried to elect the Downs Syndrome kid as Homecoming King... not to be kind and generous, but to be mean. So they could laugh at him.
The Wrestler is a story about loneliness and rejection. It has actually taken me a few weeks to process this film because it was so sad and terribly realistic. Annie and Greg brought it over on a Sunday night, and we took turns covering our eyes and moaning No's to my tiny television. The worst part is that I know that people like Randy The Ram exist and it breaks my heart. Not because they are wrestlers, mind you, or because they live in such a different world than my own. But because they are lonely and hurting.
That said, this was a beautiful film. It was beautiful because of its heartbreak, because of its realism. Mickey Rourke won the Golden Globe for his role as The Ram on Sunday (he tripped on the way up to the podium, I could barely watch) which he absolutely deserved.
The Wrestler traces the life of a former professional wrestler whose fifteen minutes passed decades ago. We understand immediately where he was and where he is. We was famous in a certain sect, and now not so much. He obviously burned bridges, obviously lived recklessly, obviously assumed invincibility.
He's now in a trailer park, alone, his only friends being the 12 year old's who play Nintendo with him. Yet even THEY feel sorry for him. 'Can't you stay for one more game, don't you want to beat me?' 'Nah... I have to be home for dinner. Maybe tomorrow.' Oh my golly, its so sad.
The story begins with a heart attack and and an understanding that he can never wrestle again. I would have expected him to ignore the doctor, but he gets on a pay phone during his break at the grocery store and calls his bookings and cancels his appearances. He decides to accept things as they are and retire gracefully.
He makes various lovely attempts to do so... calls his estranged daughter (who hates him), asks a girl out (a stripper, the talented Marisa Tomei, the only girl to pay him any attention), and gets a new job (at a deli counter, where he cheerfully scoops yellow potato salad and slices processed meats for blue haired old ladies.)
Just when we start to smile at his new outlook, his fresh start, we get hit by a wave of loneliness, a mountain of hurt. First someone recognizes him at the deli counter with a hair net on, scooping coleslaw. Aren't you The Ram, the wrestler? Akk, it hurts.
Then he attempts to mend the terrible relationship with his daughter by buying her gifts... really sad, clearly wrong gifts. He wants to buy her clothes, and picks out a lime green jacket and used pea coat. She's clearly embarrassed and has no mercy for this man who has abandoned her time and time again. It's killer.
Randy the Ram makes a heartbreaking choice (am I using the word heartbreaking too often? Can anyone think of any synonyms for that phrase?) at the end of the film, and we, like Marisa Tomei the stripper, can do nothing but close our eyes and bury ourselves in a hole. For we feel true compassion for Randy. Our hearts bleed for him and we desperately want him to be okay.
The Wrestler is good because it breaks that boundary between movie and reality. Although uninvited, it leaps out and attacks our heartstrings. This movie made me feel something... albeit, something bad... and I'm a slightly changed person because of it. And this, my friends, is why I love movies.