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This is way more than just an ordinary fall and rise story. As a matter of fact, it's actually something totally different!

This movie is a pretty surprising one, in the sense that it's probably different from what you would expect it to be. You see images from this movie, you watch some clips and trailer and you see an aging Mickey Rourke, fighting in the ring as a wrestler and you automatically start to assume this is going to be some sort of underdog sports movie, or one that's going to be about a once great wrestler, trying to make to get the top again. And sure, in some ways you could also still look at this movie that way but at the same time the movie, the story and its characters also have way more to offer than just that!

It basically is a great character study. Thing I took out of this movie is that it's one that shows how circumstances and surroundings can change but people themselves don't always change that easily. Randy 'The Ram' is trying to adapt and he's trying to change and become a better person for those who love him but it's hard to change who you are deep inside and it's hard to ignore and turn your back to the things you need or enjoy and feel comfortable with. This movie is about that journey and life cycle, in my opinion. It's also more about the journey than the actual outcome really and that's also why I didn't mind the ending of the movie. It was perfectly suitable actually, in my opinion. As a matter of fact, it was absolutely perfect and the only right way for this movie to end.

Same all goes for the Marisa Tomei character really and at times I was wondering if the movie secretly wasn't supposed to be all about her. In some ways her character is just as interesting, if not more so. Her character goes through the same journey, only thing is that she doesn't realize it, until she starts to get closer to Mickey Rourke character. In some ways I truly was more interested in her character at times and not just because she's nude all the time.

Of course everybody is talking about Mickey Rourke and his great comeback performance. And that's fine and he deserves all the credits he gets but the downside of this all is that nobody is talking about Marisa Tomei's performance really, though in some ways her character was much harder to portray. I mean, here we have a 43-year old woman, who's playing a stripper and has to be nude and semi-nude, throughout basically the entire movie. She played the role really well and above all things, she was believable in her part.

Seeing how this is a character study, it's a movie that's all about its storytelling of course. The actors are one of the things that make the storytelling great and let it work out but the writing and directing are of course two of the other, all important, elements that let this movie work out as a great one. It's a real subtly and engaging told movie, that gets you involved with its characters and their minds. At times the movie doesn't have to tell you anything, in order to understand what's going through a character's mind. That's great storytelling as well in my opinion, when a movie doesn't have to lay out everything for you.

It's a movie that's kept deliberately small, in order for you to feel more involved with the movie its story and characters. That's why the camera also always stays close to its subject and it feels like it's following him around literally everywhere. it's more of a random slice of life movie, rather than one that's constantly following a main plot line really.

it's also a movie that's probably going to make you look differently at wrestling. If you think it's all fake and pre-planned, you may be right but that doesn't take away anything from the fact that it's a real tough and physical sport, that can completely wear people out, as this movie clearly shows. The sequences within the ring are all pretty intense ones to watch.

A wonderful and truly powerful character study!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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