Darren Aronofsky teams up with Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and more to deliver a harrowing look at humanity’s struggles to accept aging and how we determine our own identity through the lens of professional wrestling. This is the Universal Theme of Aging with Keagen Fritz.

Written by: Keagen Fritz – July 26th, 2020 8:28pm pst

Still – The Wrestler

Coming to grips with the body letting us down as we decay year after year is hauntingly sobering at any point in one’s life. Those in their 20s and 30s see an uncomfortable inevitably, while those in their 40s and 50s look the ugly truth directly in the face. Aging is something that holds a multitude of consequences, and the fear it brings can be traced through psychological, emotional, and physical areas of our being. It’s a pain that is a reward for not dying early, so the premise feels absurd, to begin with, so we all resist it in our own way.  The Wrestler is a gut-wrenching yet entrancing film that places you right next to Randy the Ram Robinson as he struggles against his own aging and the world leaving him behind.

Randy (Mickey Rourke) sits in his own disappointment – Still

Randy’s a washed-up professional wrestler who lives his life through the rear-view mirror reminiscing on his days of glory, preventing him from reading the signs in front of him.  They tell him to move on, tend to himself, and to experience the later chapters of life presently.  To him, however, that seems like the coward’s way out.  He believes with every fiber of his being that the ring is where he belongs, as he’s become dependent on the crowd and their support. Darren Aronofsky looks to explore this obsession with resistance to aging through Randy and his desperate attempts to cling to his past self.  

Randy fights to keep his identity – Still

Filmed in a fly on the wall documentary aesthetic while still being rooted in a visceral drama narrative provides added realism for The Wrestler.  When the camera zooms in as it’s catching a vulnerable moment in Randy’s life, we the audience can’t help but feel a voyeuristic sensation as if we aren’t supposed to be seeing these things.  Along with adding weight to what we see on screen, this technique leaves Randy as a character to portray isolation through alienation as he slips further and further from both private and public memory.  

A voyeuristic look into suffering – Still

Randy is an entertainer. He’s a man who’s built his life around entertaining others and has lived off having his name in people’s heads.  People have short attention spans and are always looking for fresh entertainment to consume, and Randy suffers from this normalcy at a point in his life when he is least capable of handling it. This suffering isn’t reserved for the screen, as those in entertainment feel the weight of their expiration dates all too vividly.  It seems possibly unfair to not acknowledge that almost every cog in the machine is destined to feel discarded at some point, it’s just entertainment that makes it a graphic public affair. This isn’t a controversial opinion but more an observance of how the machine operates. The focus on capital and its production becomes the only goal, even if that means replacing parts and discarding them.     

The physical body can only take so much – Still

If the feeling of abandonment from the big humming machine causes panic, a fate like Randy’s isn’t that far fetched.  He was only trying to keep a grip on his identity, something we as humans hold astonishingly sacred.  However, his mistake was seeing his identity as fundamentally intertwined with the wrestling spectacle.  When he could no longer serve his “purpose,” he feels useless and broken, leaving him to spiral into self-destruction.  There is another option, thankfully.   

Rise above the crashing tides to find the lighthouse you seek – still

Every seven years, you replace every single cell in your body. So, every seven years, you are a completely new physical being.  Regardless of how you interpret consciousness and its connection to the body, that says a lot about how the passage of time affects us and this vessel we call home. The career you had in the past, the relationship that didn’t work out, whatever — it’s all a different you.  Yes, we take memories and lessons into our new bodies, but that doesn’t equate rooting identity in those past beings you once walked as.  Regardless of the fear that swells when considering abandoning who you thought you were, the reward of finding who you now are is incomparable.

A possible future for Randy – Still

Have the courage to dismantle who you were for who you can be. Randy could have embraced his retirement and spent his final years cultivating a new identity in his new physical being, one he may have even found more fulfilling as he has all his life experiences to draw from.  But alas, the lesson to be learned falls on you, the audience.

What do you identify with?  Who are you, and where in your life does the definition come from? Is it from a place you approve of?  These are all questions that can get you started cultivating a new, more divine, sense of self-identity.  Don’t be afraid to abandon parts of yourself you felt integral.  They may have been before, but that doesn’t mean they should be now.

Where would you drive if you could go anywhere? – Still

Mickey Rourke in real life is a perfect example of someone who deliberately chooses his identity and stands up for whoever he feels needs a voice, or a pair of fists to back him up.  Just today, Mickey posted on Instagram that he won’t tolerate Elon Musk picking fights with Johnny Depp and insists Musk turn his attention towards a more fair opponent.

Source – Instagram @mickey_rourke_     July 26th, 2020

Johnny Depp had insisted Elon Musk had an affair with his then wife, Amber Heard, and mentioned cutting off Mr. Musk’s penis.  Elon then responded by calling for a cage match to settle things.  But now, it would seem Elon Musk has a new challenger in the ring– Randy the Ram Robinson.    

You can rent The Wrestler on Amazon Prime and itunes.     

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About The Author:

Keagen Fritz is a screenwriting and production major at California State University Fullerton with growing industry experience looking to make a living off the written word.  He currently writes for AfterBuzz TV and has his own series “The Universal Truth” where he dives into art to pull out messages that could relate to anyone.    

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