Director: Darren Aronofsky, 2009 Language: English Runtime: 109 minutes Links: IMDb, Trailer. By Frank Stalter “I forgot how much fun this is.” That simple but revealing line from Randy “The Ram” Robinson’s arch rival during the climactic wrestling match in The Wrestler explains the main character perfectly. Randy, who was at the very top of the pro wrestling business in the 1980s, never forgot. Randy didn’t leave the pro wrestling big time, it left him and so did a lot of other things, including his daughter Stephanie. The almost unanimous glowing reviews miss the point of The Wrestler in my view. He’s not that down on his luck. He might be working the independent wrestling circuit, but he still is at the top of the card and well respected within the business. Randy could live a lot better than he does if he didn’t drop a small fortune on steroids, pain killers and nudie bars. Luck has nothing to do with where he is. He made his own choices and he is where he is but a health setback at the end of the first act prompts an attempt at change and this is the slice of Randy‘s life we get to see played out in the film. He enlists the aid of Pam, a dancer who goes by the stage name of Cassidy, to help him get back in touch with his estranged daughter. He’d also like to make Pam his girl. Screenwriter Robert Seigel  has written a masterpiece of minimalism. All is revealed when the time is right and not a moment sooner and not a bit more than is needed. A lot has been written about the film’s great performances, and they are that, but I have to think that it’s a lot easier to give a great performance when the script is kept simple and real and not overloaded with a lot of verbose speeches and too much insulting exposition. A couple of quick examples are the hearing aid Randy wears when not in the ring. Hearing loss is a common side effect of abusing pain killers. That’s never explicitly explained and doesn‘t need to be. You either know that or you don‘t. Stephanie’s sexual orientation is never explicitly revealed. She probably is a lesbian, but it doesn’t matter to Randy so why should it matter to us? The director, Darren Aronofsky, doesn’t create an atmosphere but drops his talented cast into a very real world and captures it. The performances by Mickey Rourke as Randy, Marisa Tomei as Pam and Evan Rachel Wood as Stephanie are crushingly believable. The physicality that Rourke and Tomei, neither of whom are playing kids or actually are kids, bring  to their roles is as impressive as their handling of  their lines. The added abuse Rourke had to take to pull off the wrestling scenes is jaw dropping and never feels like that is just an actor trying to be a wrestler for a moment. At its’ heart, The Wrestler is a simple character study. The first two acts do a marvelous job of making Randy sympathetic. A guy like Randy would make a decent friend or acquaintance. He would do you a solid and would be grateful if you did the same for him. Randy is a guy who does well at the superficial where the interaction includes a lot of "I got ya's" and "I know you're good for it's". He tells people what they want to hear, but hasn’t backed it up when it really matters. But as a dad or a boyfriend or a husband or a brother or a son . . . well, Stephanie has made her decision. Pam, who has put her 9 year old son first in her life, has made her’s as far as having Randy as a boyfriend, but Randy is not a quitter. There are a lot of people like Randy in the world. Does he make the changes he needs to? The corker of a third act does reveal all. For my money, The Wrestler is the best film of 2008. Rating: 10/10