The Wrestler

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As I type, The Wrestler holds onto the number 91 spot of IMDB's list of best movies of all time. Well, maybe that won't hold up. But it's very, very good.

It's the story of aging professional wrestler Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, played by Mickey Rourke. Randy is a pretty good guy: kids love him, and has the respect of his peers. (According to this movie, pro wrestling is, behind the scenes, a bunch of swell guys, nary a sleazeball to be seen.)

But Randy's self-destructive, and in a more literal sense than that term is usually used. As depicted in the movie, pro wrestling expects and rewards the giving and receiving of grievous bodily harm; Randy is an expert in both. There's no drug testing, and it seems just about everyone, including Randy, is on a steady diet of pharmaceuticals. All that takes a toll. When not in the ring, he sports a cheap hearing aid and dons reading glasses when necessary. Although he's good-hearted, his heart is on the verge of killing him.

But the normal kinds of self-destruction are around too: Randy's been estranged from his daughter for years. Outside the wrestling arena he's friendless, and is teetering on the edge of financial disaster. His only solace is occasional visits to the lounge where the lovely-but-aging Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) works. She's got her own problems.

It's not for the squeamish. Even I (not particularly squeamish) found myself cringing in a couple spots.

But it's a masterful acting performance from Mickey Rourke, and Marisa Tomei is just as good. They both deserved their Oscar nominations.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 5:49 AM EDT