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Life Arts    H3'ed 1/25/09

The Wrestler: Of Love, Pain, and Glory

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Now, the audience gets the human story it came to see---the story of how one walks away from his or her passion, the very thing that defines him or her.


“The Ram’s” world without wrestling is one where fallibility is a predator that is constantly preying upon a man who thinks of himself as a Hercules of the ring. It’s a world of isolation and detachment from a society he doesn’t know how to maneuver around. But, it’s also a tender opportunity to open up a connection with people whom he hasn’t been open with---Cassidy and a daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), who he ran away from years ago and has ignored ever since.


The two provide the dimensions for the remainder of the story. How “The Ram” acts through these two shows how much pride and glory he derives from wrestling.


Cassidy’s character has a strong presence in the story. Despite the fact that she is a stripper, she is first and foremost a mother with a nine year-old son. Stripping puts food on the table for her son to eat and it pays the rent. That is why she strips. It’s also why she has rules for what she does; she draws a line and refuses to interact with customers outside of paid-for lap dances and pole dancing encounters.


When “The Ram’s” heart attack forces him to confront his mortality and to notice that he has been a destructive force to himself and others around him, he finds in Cassidy a woman who he can talk to and use to repair his life. Cassidy talks and offers advice for “The Ram” which concerns his daughter.


Stephanie is the salt in Randy’s wounds, a person who Randy should be close with but is not. The heart attack forces Randy to battle his regrets. Unlike a wrestling match, there is no crowd for him to pump up as he takes them on.


Randy buys a gift to convince Stephanie to talk to him after all the years he spent paying no attention to her.


She invites him in, but what does he do? He cannot maintain the connection he seems eager to strengthen and maintain now that he can no longer wrestle. He finds himself screwing a woman in a bathroom, drinking, waking up in some odd place, and going home to sleep off the night before; he lets the demons make the one person who might forgive and forget decide he should be forgotten and never forgiven.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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