The Wrestler seems like the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson aka Robin Ramzinski (Mickey Rourke), a professional wrestler, but it is actually the story of many of his brothers of the mat as well. The Wrestler is the saga many professional wrestlers have faced that were prominent, recognizable stars and household names in the mid 80’s. Some of them lived hard lives and their families and their bodies suffered as a result.
Randy dreams of his glory days, glory days attested to in the opening newspaper, poster and magazine articles and of returning to them. There are mementos of his former wealth and prestige littered throughout his van and mobile home. Now he lives in reality, a reality that could almost care less about who he used to be.
Once probably commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and selling out huge arenas across the country, The Ram has been reduced to working in a Supermarket for minimum wage and wrestling part-time on the weekends in high school auditoriums. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Not everything in Randy’s life is a reminder of how far he has fallen in popularity, prestige and wealth. Cassidy aka Pam (Marisa Tomei) is an exotic dancer at a strip club named Cheeques and Randy has eyes for her. Over a long association, Randy and Cassidy have become friends and often talk about their lives outside of work. Cassidy’s story mirrors Randy’s in a few ways. They are both clinging to an industry that favors the young and that they should have retired from years ago. Because they have not or can’t because of economic reasons, they are forced to endure a sporadic but steadily increasing stream of reality checks. After a life altering incident following a “Hell in the Cell” caliber hardcore wrestling match, Randy reaches out to his estranged daughter, Stephanie Robinson (Evan Rachel Wood). At first resistant and wary because of his past neglect and absenteeism, Stephanie gives him a chance and begins to open up her heart to him. Though he has disappointed her all her life, there is still a part of her that wants a relationship with her dad.
Throughout The Wrestler, The Ram is constantly faced with who is versus who he was. It begins taking a toll on him, eating away at his sense of worth outside of the ring. The situation is not helped by an insulting and wise-cracking manager at the supermarket Randy works at or at
gatherings with other wrestlers that have given their bodies and youth to the sport.
Randy’s life outside of the ring is full of regret and escalating sorrow, inside the ring he is a God, someone admired and respected. His fans are the one family that is always there for him no matter what. Their the family that only sees the best in Randy and is never let down by his presence in their lives.
Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler is a deft piece of human story telling, much like his Requiem for a Dream. Mickey Rourke was able to make Randy “The Ram” a real person with a tormented soul because of choices and mistakes he unintentionally keeps making in his life. He is a flawed human being unlike the film he is represented in.