You Cannot Kill David Arquette is the redemptive tale of washed-up Hollywood actor David Arquette and his attempt to reverse the mistakes of his past.
In 2002, Arquette decided to cross-promote his comedy film Ready to Rumble about wrestling fans, by entering into the wrestling ring himself. However, the gimmick snowballed into Arquette actually winning the World Heavyweight Championship. This betrayed the sport and still infuriates fans and wrestlers decades later.
The documentary follows Arquette now, amid many physical and psychological struggles. He attributes the foray into wrestling to the downfall of his acting career. Presently though, Arquette believes that in order quell his personal demons, or perhaps reconnect with the happiness felt as a child while wrestling, he must train himself to return to professional wrestling.
While the project itself may be self-indulgent, it is highly entertaining in the way it unveils the extreme physical duress and hard-work required for wrestling in spite of its artificiality. With all his ailments, Arquette voraciously throws himself into the wrestling deep-end that yields sympathy and squeamishness in equal measure.
In montages reminiscent of classic sporting films, Arquette begins on the indie circuit, fighting matches in rural backyards, as well as competing in street wrestling for pocket-change. His family and friends express grave concern when his body gets banged up with cuts and bruises. However, the sense of belonging he feels restores joy to his demeanour; “you don’t know how these guys treat me”, he pleads to his wife Christina.
The film is almost masochistic in its triumph, as Arquette undergoes gruelling pain to repent for the disrespect he showed to the sport he loved. The vagaries of the film’s purpose are summarised pointedly by David’s brother Richmond who believes “David wants love.” However, this search for love culminates in a gruesomely violent death-match with Nick Gage, where the audience might question if the ends justify the means.
In the match, Arquette is stabbed in the neck with shards of glass and rushed to hospital, with producers of the film noticeably panicked. This particular moment made tabloid headlines, and pop-culture figures like Joe Rogan derided him. One might wonder if there are easier ways to feel love.
In any case, You Cannot Kill David Arquette is an exhilarating insight into the complicated soul of David Arquette that vindicates his baptism of fire back into the wrestling community.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is now streaming on Stan
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Patrick Scott is a recent graduate from Monash University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications. He is a freelance film reviewer based in Melbourne, and contributor to The Blurb.