Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Wrestler

When I first read about The Wrestler in Who’s been nice …, I knew that it would be a demanding movie to watch; hence, I avoided watching it until I had the required reserve. The movie has a discordant tone much more in keeping with Murderball than Rocky Balboa: no pat answers or easy choices lay here. As a result the three story lines (wrestler and himself, wrestler and stripper, and wrestler and daughter) neither really mesh, nor really get resolved. The camera-work is as jerky and raw as Rourke’s movements. Rourke’s performance has been referred to as “a story of personal redemption” and “masterful,” yet it remains difficult to grasp how masterful his performance is unless one reflects upon it. This is because the hand-held cameras, gritty scenery, and close miking is unfamiliar, even disorientating — I can’t recall the last time I heard an actor’s exhale or saw an actor’s pores. Rourke, in his one long struggle, demands excellent performances from the supporting cast; I particularly enjoyed the contrast between Evan Rachel Wood’s vivid expressions and Rourke’s sepia starkness.

Furthermore, although the story-lines are clear the means are not, e.g., the viewer knows he will cut his hand on the deli-slicer, but assumes (and is led to believe) that it would be by accident. The same goes for other implements of self-mutilation, the razor blade and stapler. Nevertheless, the means lead only to partial redemption. This remains the real tragedy; thus, one wonders how things could have been different, e.g., will his daughter struggle with the finality she had hoped for? The soundtrack, full of one-hit-wonder hair-bands, adds to the surreal nature of the film. Springsteen alone encapsulates the wrestler himself. Springsteen with his return to the husky ballad captures the wrestler’s soul whereas the hair-bands merely represent the wrestler-as-performer’s culture. Although the number of loose-ends seems disturbing, the film is really worth watching on so many levels, the most important being the katharsis it provides.

No comments:


Reverb plug-in