Sunday, January 25, 2009

The (mere) Wrestler

The Wrestler (spoiler code blue, not red) may begin with a stripper reciting an extensive portion of Isaiah 53, and goes on to then depict wounds aplenty - but don't take the bait. This is a film in which Christ-figuring just won't stick. True, the Asbury Park scene was exquisite - as if the boardwalk had decayed for that reason alone; and yes, it was a quintessential Jersey film (the real Jersey, not Princeton). But there is no absolution to this crucifixion.

In short, a stripper and wrester escape the degradation of their bodies at exactly the wrong times, miscarriaging the healing they might have found in one another. Aranofsky is not kind to his audiences, but nor is he reckless. His point, I think, is to implicate. This film implicates the audience for whom a wrestler died, by whose stripes no one was healed. And considering what one must go through to arrive at this conclusion, those who bought a ticket are implicated as well.