The Wrestler is an honest, gritty look at what happens to the superstars of wrestling entertainment once the cameras and spotlights no longer smile down upon them. It’s also been a matter of hot topic in recent WWE shows featuring Chris Jericho.

Twenty years ago, Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was an alpha dog in the world of wrestling. He was one of the good guys everyone could look up to and he finished off all his opponents with a “Ram Jam” from the top ropes. Now, crowds of a hundred chant his name as he beats idolizing unknowns in the amateur ring and sits among the other aged athletes at barely attended autograph sessions. A heart attack brought on by decades of abusing his body causes Randy to re-evaluate what’s important in his life. As a result, he attempts to transcend his business-only relationship with a stripper (Marisa Tomei) and tries to mend his relationship with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).

Anyone who raised a wrestler to the status of hero when they were young will appreciate this behind-the-curtain look at the difficult choices and hardships these men face. Some parts are hard to watch even though we’ve seen the performance side of it countless times. A well-written, tragic script effectively pulls and drags at your heartstrings without feeling exaggerated or unreal. The downside is you may never look at a wrestling match as carefree again.

Rourke turns in a career resurrecting performance. Sin City put his name back on our lips, but this put it in our hearts and mind. Even though Rourke did not win the Oscar, the buzz and attention around this picture are well-earned. Rourke infuses “The Ram” with the charisma, energy and heart that these athletes addicted to the roar of the crowd bring to the show. On the flipside, he plays the beaten man trying to find his way to heart-wrenching perfection. Tomei also brings her A-game, portraying a woman past her prime in an industry that repels reality and values youth.

Director Darren Aronofsky doesn’t attach his usual bells and whistles to the movie’s appearance; instead, he lets the story speak for itself through drained colours and an unpolished look. Any other choice would have detracted from the chronicle.

Sadly, the only special feature included with a film of this calibre is the music video for Bruce Springsteen’s Golden Globe-winning title song “The Wrestler.”

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