Vail Daily reviews MIckey Rourke in ‘The Wrestler’
VAIL, Colorado Flying elbows off the top rope, smashing heads into turnbuckles, body slams, suplexes and blood soaked mats welcome to the world of professional wrestling. Its the only world that Randy The Ram Robinson (Mickey Rourke) knows and one he cant leave behind despite the fact that hes well past his glory days of the 80s and his body has become a bruised and broken lump of raw hamburger. The Wrestler opens with a montage of The Rams old wrestling posters as Quiet Riots Metal Health plays and we see right away that he once stood at the top of the mountain in his sport. But once the opening credits come to an end the nasty truth is revealed in one of the most telling scenes in the movie. The camera follows Robinson as he exits the grocery store where he now works as a stock boy and follows him home to his trailer park where he is locked out for not paying his rent. The entire time we see the action from the point of view of Robinsons back as if hes entering the arena for another championship wrestling match, and this little trick makes it obvious that he cant escape the fantasy of the ring, even in his everyday life.If destiny comes with a price, Robinson seems hell-bent on paying it over and over again. He hangs out only with other wrestlers because theyre the only ones who can understand him and the life he leads. He lives on a diet of painkillers and steroids, and the only thing that brings him happiness is the cheers of his fans. Amazingly, he still wrestles, though now hes reduced to matches at local, small time clubs. But thats enough to keep him going. In one scene he fights an opponent using crutches wrapped in barbed wire, and a fans prosthetic limb, and hes happy to do it because the fans love it. He shuns the world outside the ring where nothing is in his control.When a life-threatening illness takes what is left of his career away from him, we get to watch him try to slip into a life of tedium and normality and the film gets rather solemn for a time. Thats also when we learn theres more to Robinson than just muscles. On the inside, despite his scarred exterior, is a kind man who wants to do the right thing by everyone.Adding to his has-been hardships is his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) who has more than a little contempt for the man who missed all of her birthdays in order to pursue his own career and a stripper he wants to date (Marisa Tormei) but whos afraid to commit to a man who has frequently been the beneficiary of her lapdances.The Wrestler is what all of us hope we never become washed up and unaware of it. But watching Rourke take on the world, never once failing to believe in his triumphant return to greatness against all odds, is enough to inspire anybody. Robinson may be a one-trick pony, but hes a one-trick pony with heart. As violent as it is sentimental, as funny as it is pathetic, we can all learn something from The Wrestler about the toll our dreams whether were living them or have already lost them can take on our lives.