Micky Rourke's bravura, first and foremost. My first reaction last night, right after seeing the film: the allegorical dimension is rather simple and transparent, as it seems, for a European outsider with an image of the USA largely filtered through film and television. "USA! USA!" the audience chants when Randy "the Ram" Robinson (whose real name is Robin Ramzinski, of course) meets Necro the drug addict or the wrestler with mohawk hairdo and finally the Ayatollah himself, waving Iran's flag. Sexism, consumerism, utter violence as entertainment, all the appropriate themes, the daughter's lesbianism, etc.; Ram as sacrifice and Christ figure with stigmata (including the direct and ironic reference to The Passion of the Christ), et cetera et cetera. Is it all too obvious, then?
When the first impression is followed by this certain unease, I know I may have encountered something that really touches me in a more profound way, beyond the beauty of the film as a film and beyond the angry "message" directed rather at the American society than the average outside viewer who feels he has "seen it all" already, not to mention the melodramatic and sentimental ingredients of whose power I find myself ambiguously "critically aware." At least the strong presence of the allegorical dimension invites me to attempt thinking more clearly about allegory – I also guess I will watch The Wrestler again some time.
(Above: "The official trailer" via YouTube.)
I have to point out that the "American culture" and "American society" are by no means geographically determined and bound by the borders of the nation. The American culture and society is everywhere. This pervasiveness allows us non-US citizens (I have never even visited America!) also to enjoy the humorous, ambivalently nostalgic references to the eighties' emphasis on partying to hard rock against "that pussy Cobain," an incarnation of the nineties, who ruined everything, etc.
I will return to The Wrestler some time, after watching it again. Some time, probably not very soon, though.