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April 21, 2009

DVD of the Week – The Wrestler (2008)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

A lot has already been said about the stellar acting in The Wrestler, especially by Mickey Rourke, in what was probably the best performance by a male actor in 2008, in his portrayal of a professional wrestler in the twilight of his career. Marisa Tomei also garnered an Oscar nomination for her role as a single-mom stripper. However, what impresses me most about the film is that director Darren Aronofsky, normally known for his arresting visuals and complex narratives, is able to tell a straightforward story with a hand-held camera.

As opposed to Aronofsky’s other films, The Wrestler is intimate and brutal. Like many people of my generation, I have become somewhat detached from violence in film, but the wrestling scenes in this film are harrowing, perhaps because they are so realistic. Then, seeing Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Rourke) tend to his wounds after these matches is truly heartbreaking.

Some of the tropes in the film are a little too familiar (the single-mom stripper, the estranged daughter), but the recognizability of the characters makes them somewhat more believable. And the movie still surprises us. It is a tale of redemption, but perhaps not in the way that we are used to.

The film is available in both DVD and Blu-ray formats, without a lot of special features. The release does include a 40-minute “making of” documentary, which, by all accounts, is worth watching.

Original Commentary Track review of The Wrestler by Geoff Geib.

Other new releases this week: Frost/Nixon, Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts, A Jihad For Love, Notorious


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