I watched The Wrestler last night for the first time. Or for the first time last night. Whichever sounds better to you. Probably the latter.
An excellent and sad movie.
Some of it was very cliched - the aging stripper romance, the estranged daughter - and some of it very much reminded me of the opening of Commando in terms of giving us a checklist of reasons to care for the character. Remember the opening of Commando? He's feeding a deer - that shows he's close to nature. Oh, look, he's teaching his daughter how to fish. That shows they are resourceful. And so on.
I got that same feeling from bits in The Wrestler. Like when he comes out of his van and messes with the kids. Ah, he has a heart of gold.
But Mickey Rourke's performance really elevated the film far beyond what I think was written there. At times, it could have been entirely real. It was nice to see Aronofsky make, you know, an actual movie. A very good movie at that.
And, of course, the appeal is obvious.
A man, beaten down by life, fights to the end. Even in the crappiest of jobs and, actually, even if we're not doing too badly at all but we feel we could be doing better, most of us feel that way through large portions of our life. Stripper - object of desire just out of reach. Who doesn't have that? Estranged daughter - we all have damaged relationships somewhere in the past that still affect who we are now. We want Randy the Ram to do better. Because we want to do better.
Pretty bloody obvious really. But far easier said than done to capture that in a movie. And they did it.
The one thing that separates Randy the Ram from most people is that he's always got fight left in him.
Whereas most of us, society as a whole, seems to have lost that fight. There's shit going on all around us and we take it. We don't punch a meat slicer and quit. We stay at the deli counter and tell ourselves we're doing a good job because we've got bills to pay.
I want to punch a meat slicer.