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Darren Aronofsky‘s 2008 film The Wrestler, released ten years ago today, has my favorite ending of all time because we, the audience, are not around to see it end.
The beautiful thing about film is that it’s a brief window into another world. We airdrop into these characters’ lives for two-ish hours and then we’re booted back out again, leaving them alone to live, and die, and eat, and ****, and whatever it is they do without us gawking at them through the screen. When a movie feels truly alive, you know that the story goes on after the credits roll, even if you’re not allowed to see it. I love endings, live for a great movie ending, which is hard in a time when major movies don’t want to end. In a Marvel-dominated pop culture economy it so often feels like you’re watching an extended preview for the next thing, where even the end-credits are interrupted with promises of more story down the road. (The biggest movie of the year, Avengers: Infinity War, is half a story.) This is fine, events are fun, and I love a good superhero flick as much as the next dweeb. But on the film’s ten-year anniversary, I revisited The Wrestler and was reminded of the magic of a story that not only ends, but ends after the movie cuts to black.
Randy - Ram - Robinson—played - Performance - Mickey
The ending: Randy “The Ram” Robinson—played in an Oscar-nominated performance by a Mickey Rourke constructed 100% from belt-leather and anabolic steroids—is a washed-up former pro-wrestling superstar making small-time appearances on the New Jersey indie scene in his twilight years. A doctor told him that another go in the ring could stop his struggling heart, but Randy has wasted everything he ever created outside the squared circle—his relationship with his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood),...
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