Fake It So Real
A couple months ago I watched and reviewed, Card Subject to Change, a documentary about the world of my favorite art form, independent professional wrestling. While I was disappointed by that movie, I still felt that if ever there was a subject fit for a compelling documentary it was indy wrestling. Today’s movie Fake It So Real, proves that that feeling was right.
Rather than trying to document the breadth of the bizarre and diverse independent wrestling community, the film focuses in on a a handful of wrestlers running single promotion in small town North Carolina, documenting one week of their lives leading up to a single show. By doing so director Robert Greene presents an intimate portrait of a ragtag band of performers, (almost all of whom are damaged in one way or another,) who have found meaning in life by gathering together every other week, renting a hall, and putting on a show. The perspective seems honest if a bit sympathetic. (Greene is apparently the cousin of one of the wrestlers, Chris Solar.) We see a group of men with variety of issues, some physical, some emotional, some legal, some psychological. The previously mentioned Chris Solar shares how a rare birth defect caused him to be born with most of his digestive system outside his abdomen, and a subsequent lifetime of surgeries that followed. The group’s rookie Gabriel Croft explains how he moved to the area to be with his fiance, who subsequently broke up with him then obtained a restraining order. His lowest moment, he explains, was when he was arrested in connection with this, and had to miss a show. Every member of the band of misfits has a story, a reason why they don’t seem to fit in to normal society, but they have found meaning with their wrestling promotion.
In between shows we see them hanging out together, beating the pavement to hang up fliers promoting their next event, working out details for their in-ring characters, and brainstorming the story to be told at the next show. We learn that no one involved with their wrestling promotion really makes any money from doing so. Most of the meager gate receipts go towards renting the Veterans Center where the show is held. As odd as it seems, its clear that, despite how they look and how they sound, these men are artists putting on a show for the love of it, to entertain themselves and their small but loyal audience.
As a fan of this particular form of entertainment, I really loved this movie, but I don’t think I can quite call it a “must see.” It’s a niche form of entertainment, and not everyone’s going to get it. Still, Fake It So Real is well worth seeing.