THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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It’s not often that you see a film that is so realistic and brilliantly made it’s also quite scary at the same time. This is the case with the critically acclaimed Mickey Rourke film “The Wrestler”, recently released on DVD here in Britain.
Rourke stars as faded 80’s wrestling star Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a man who once sold out Madison Square Garden but now ekes out a living working at a supermarket in New Jersey, while getting his regular wrestling fix working on indy shows at the weekend.
Despite being way past his prime, Robinson yearns for his glory days and dreams of returning to the top of his profession. He sees a proposed match with his old wrestling enemy The Ayatollah as his way back, but then his world collapses when he suffers a heart attack after a show, and undergoes bypass surgery. He’s later told that his career is over.
As he tries to put his career behind him, Robinson gets a job working at the deli counter at the supermarket. But away from the wrestling business he realises just how empty his life is, and he tries to build bridges with the only two women his life, a stripper named Cassidy, played by Marissa Tomei, and his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood.
As you’ve probably heard so many times over the past year or so, Rourke is perfect in the role of the faded star. This is, by far, his best performance, and it’s obvious why everyone was raving about it.
But the thing that sets this film apart from other portrayals of the wrestling business is it’s realism. For years we’ve seen tongue-in-cheek looks from Grunt through No Holds Barred right up to Ready to Rumble.
Speaking from personal experience, this film is so damn realistic it’s frightening. I saw things in this film that I saw first hand from my own time in the wrestling business, and Robinson’s story, of how he’s more or less addicted to the adulation he receives from wrestling fans, and of how he has little to no life outside of the wrestling business, is something I’ve seen for myself time and time again.
In conclusion – The Wrestler is a brilliant piece of film making. Director Darren Aronofsky, Mickey Rourke and all those connected with this film should be proud of their accomplishments. If you haven’t seen it yet then go out and buy a copy right now. You won’t be disappointed. And if you’re in the wrestling business and you can identify with Randy “The Ram” Robinson, then as far as the makers of this film are concerned, then it’s mission accomplished.