Mickey Rourke gives the performance of a lifetime as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a has been wrestler trying to battle his way through life inside and outside the ring. Between his part time wrestling gigs and his deli counter job, the Ram's barely able to make ends meat. Cassidy, played by the courageous Marisa Tomei, is a stripper at the local club who's befriended by Ram. Their relationship serves as a mentoring devise for the both of them. They're both on stage trying their best to entertain people and make a living. The difference is that Ram love's wrestling. It's the only thing he's ever known, the only thing that he's ever been good at, he IS a wrestler. He's so dedicated to the profession that it let his relationship with his daughter Stephanie, played by Evan Rachel Wood, completely dissolve into almost nothing as he was never around to be her father. When the Ram finds her and tries to make amends it makes for one of the most heartfelt scenes of the year as Mickey delivers a teary eyed monologue to her on the pier.
The entire film is filmed handheld which gives it a raw authentic documentary feel. The opening 6 minutes of the film really shows us who the Ram is as a person and Mickey gives us such a convincing performance that the audience is convinced by it without even seeing Rams face in it's entirety. The camera first shows him sitting in a classroom with his back to us just after a match. He's hunched over and tired. Next we follow him as he makes his way through the lobby, signs a couple of autographs, drives home blasting 80's rock, and ends up home locked out of his trailer and sleeping in his van for the night. We know right away that this guy is not doing well physically or financially. He's a mess, but he's still got a heart of gold and a kind attitude outside of the ring. There's a really great scene where Ram is walking through the halls at work making his way to the deli counter. As he's walking, crowd cheers and chanting is inserted into the scene as if he's walking out to the ring. This shows us again how wrestling is such a big part of his life as this is probably what's going on in his head every time he walks out to the deli counter. If he does this, it keeps him sane. It gets him through the crappy work day.
Mickey was nominated for an Academy award and a winner of the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Independent Spirit awards for best actor. This was considered his comeback film after fucking up his career in Hollywood and it boosted him back to much deserved stardom and to being a respected actor once again. Mickey Rourke BECAME Randy "The Ram" Robinson and he left a permanent mark in Hollywood with The Wrestler. The Wrestler gets 5 outa 5.