Home > Reviews > THE WRESTLER – Clint Mansell

THE WRESTLER – Clint Mansell

December 19, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A critically acclaimed, Award-winning drama about the life of a washed-up former wrestler struggling to salvage what’s left of his dignity, The Wrestler is directed by Darren Aronofsky and features a career-changing performance by Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, an aging professional wrestler decades past his prime, who now barely gets by working small wrestling shows and as a part-time grocery store employee. As he faces health problems that may end his wrestling career for good he attempts to come to terms with his life outside the ring, trying to reconcile with the daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) he abandoned in childhood, and forming a closer bond with a stripper (Marisa Tomei) for whom he has romantic feelings.

The score for The Wrestler is by Aronofsky’s regular composer Clint Mansell; the pair worked together previously on films such as Pi in 1998, Requiem for a Dream in 2000, and The Fountain in 2006. As befits such a small, intimate film, Mansell’s score is similarly small and intimate, consisting solely of pieces for electric guitar, synth, and a small string section. One may be able to argue that Mansell’s music suits the gritty, working class setting of the film, or that it remains true to the hard edged musical sensibilities of the world of wrestling, but if truth be told it’s really not very good.

The entire score is based around a simple recurring guitar riff that is present in almost every cue; it gets extended performances in “Trailer Bedtime”, “Stephanie” and the conclusive “Glory Be”, and reaches its emotional high points in “Leaving Hospital” “Boardwalk Dance”, when the tiny string section and another, wailing electric guitar gives it backing, and a little bit of depth. A couple of cues – notably the opening “Gymnasium” and, later, “Eye of the Tiger” – are little more than sustained synth chords which are more grating than anything else. I don’t mind simplicity in my scores, or even electric guitar writing when it suits the mood of the film, but I at least expect these scores to be in some way appealing to the ear or the heart; unfortunately, The Wrestler is neither of those things.

In fact, by far the best thing on the album is Bruce Springsteen’s Golden Globe-winning song “The Wrestler”, which has the usual poetic lyrics, folk-rock vibe and blue-collar grit one comes to expect from The Boss. The score for The Wrestler has not been released commercially, and can only be found on this 16-minute promotional album, released for Academy Awards consideration by Fox Searchlight.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • Gymnasium (0:27)
  • Trailer Bedtime (1:19)
  • Leaving Hospital (2:03)
  • Jogging (0:24)
  • Stephanie (1:06)
  • Autograph Signing (0:41)
  • Cassidy and Ram (0:58)
  • Boardwalk Dance (1:33)
  • Stephanie Argument (0:43)
  • Eye of the Tiger (0:26)
  • Pre-Match Build-Ups (0:33)
  • Glory Be (2:00)
  • The Wrestler (performed by Bruce Springsteen) (3:50)

Running Time: 16 minutes 07 seconds

Promo, 16:07 (2008)

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