The Wrestler (2008) Review

The Wrestler PosterRagged glory — words that best describe The Wrestler. The magnificent showcase of it by Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) makes this film special, within the realm of all things so ugly that they cross-over into beauty territory.

The real America, the America that may conjure up feelings of nausea or fascination with equal ease. Wrestling, the grotesque monkey-like behavior on which the filmmaker focuses his lens: even this requires effort and sacrifice, so to speak. The genius of the film lies precisely within this subliminal, continuous utterance of “so to speak.”

This is the story of a perfectly ordinary loser, of many losers lacking all things special, on which the dress of glory had no way of fitting to start with, hence the subtle irony filling the background when words like “warrior” or “hero” are spoken throughout the movie.

Testimony to his greatness, Aronofsky manages to narrate a disgustingly prosaic story (in all aspects, especially that of depth) in a way that universalizes it, all the way to the forging of an idea, emerging from the furnace of artistry: illusion itself is what hides behind and beyond illusions, our wrestler is just that: he’s not a deeper or different character than initially thought, he’s not on a “path” to somewhere, he’s not evolving or melting down, he is, quite simply, a common failure with nothing to hope for, and nothing to be expected from.

Ragged “glory”, of the most trivial and repulsive kind, fulfilling its paradox within the careless universality of “being” in such a painful and generic fashion, that it becomes a template for any possible existence. Failed, but still being. Plodding forward. Existing. Victory in defeat, and the complete irrelevance of this, a great “whatever”.

Memorable scene: the last ring entrance, to the sound of Guns n’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine.

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