In what many consider the best performance of his storied career, Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson in “The Wrestler.” He was a megastar in the 1980s and now performs on weekends while working the deli counter at a grocery store during the week. Randy is old and tired, but he still loves wrestling. He forces himself through bloody, hardcore matches, taking base hits and skating for small crowds. He is in love with a stripper, Cassidy, whose age in his own profession mirrors Robinson’s. After a heart attack that should end his wrestling career, Randy tries to mend his relationship with his estranged daughter, while trying to convince Cassidy to settle down. Robinson is offered one last big payday in a retirement game and must decide what’s important about what’s left of his career and life.
“The Wrestler” had to be at the top of this list. The best wrestling movie of all time, bar none. Director Darren Aronofsky and screenwriter Robert D. Siegel have cast a heartbreaking look at an older performer in the indie wrestling scene, prompting many beloved aging wrestlers to play small-part versions of themselves while throughout the movie. The Guardian gushed over Mickey Rourke, saying he delivers “a terrifically engaging, likable and even vulnerable performance”.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a fun watch. This is a serious character study, showing a fictionalized version of many of our wrestling heroes after their time in the spotlight has ended. It can be hard to sit down, and maybe just one viewing will be enough for some people. As a wrestling fan, you owe it to yourself to watch “The Wrestler”.