The Wrestler (180 points/17 votes)
“In The Wrestler, Randy the "Ram" is a former Wrestling superstar who lives in a trailer park and makes his money off of weekend shows. He is a fallen star of yesteryear but instead of harping on a man attempting to recapture his glory days, Darren Aronofsky reveals an often bittersweet tale of a man who does not know how to live. There is a great emphasis on the Ram's body, how it endures, and eventually breaks down. His tolerance for pain seems both astronomical and careless, his eventual physical demise is not surprising. What is truly heartbreaking, and what makes this film so personal, is the fact that while Randy can handle and rationalize his physical torment, any sort of emotional pain is unbearable for him. Wrestling is his escape from the responsibilities of being a loving human being, and his attempts to reconcile with his daughter, is ruined by his own subconscious sabotage.
“His story is mirrored by that of Cassidy, a stripper who is past her prime. Both of their careers are tied to their bodies, and how they effectively sell them to make a living. Normal society looks down upon both of their careers, though for different reasons, and both characters struggle with the isolation and rigid expectations that come with it. Cassidy, however, is able to live beyond her career, and is a loving mother. In separating her job from her personal life, she is able to handle the real world with far more rationality than Ram. Though obviously pained by the idea that her body is no longer a feasible means of gaining a living, she has another life waiting for her, one that she is ready to embrace. This parallel also reveals gender issues relating to the human body, how Cassidy's career is cut short earlier than Ram's, and the derogatory nature of some of the patrons. The fact that her career is also based on selling sex, while Ram's on violence, is also very revealing.
“Above all else, what makes The Wrestler such a poignant film is the sincere portrait of characters not unlike ourselves, people who are lonely and lost, searching for acceptance and love, but never quite sure how to act and react to the world around them.” ~ Justine Smith