Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"The Wrestler" (2008)

I have been intrigued with the premises of a couple Darren Aronofsky films for some time. So when I saw a three-pack of his films in the discount section of my local DVD provider, with both films included, I snatched it up. The unintended consequence of that purchase was that it gave me a chance to see what a lot of people deemed to be the best film of 2009. I cannot count myself among them.

It is true what a lot of people are saying, including Aronofsky himself, that this film and “Black Swan” are thematically related. At a basic level they are telling the same story. However, whereas “Black Swan” is bizarre and imaginative, “The Wrestler” is downright mundane and depressingly realistic. Other deviations: virginal and repressed vs. oversexed and indulgent, precise and composed vs. improvised and chaotic, leaves one in need of counseling vs. leaves one in need of a shower.

With “Black Swan” we followed the dead-end spiral of an artist pursuing perfection but achieving madness. Here we have the out of control burn-out of a man living his life the only way he knows how and it is killing him. How bad does it have to be for the voice of reason in his life to be an over-the-hill stripper trying to make ends meet for her son?

The thing that had critics reveling about the film was its realism and its tragedy. It has both in spades. This film is only for people who feel the need to know how bad things can get, for people who find inspiration in a life that cannot find its way. It was not my cup of tea.

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