Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Wrestler

One movie that everyone has been talking about this year is The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Critics have been calling it the "resurection of Mickey Rourke" and "an unqualified triumph" so I knew I had to see it. Fortunately I was lent the For Your Consideration DVD and was able to watch it at home but that did not take away from the power of the film.

The film opens with news clippings talking about Randy "The Ram" Robinson behind the opening credits while a song likening to Guns and Roses plays in the background. Then over a black screen, we hear a man coughing and wheezing and it sounds as though he may die in a matter of moments but then we see Mickey, sitting in a chair with his back to the camera. He has long bleached hair, a fake tan and black tights on. Although we cannot see his face we can tell that he is old, broken down and tired. He then leaves the locker room to greet a few fans asking for an autograph but we still cannot see his face. The next scene is one of my favorites in the entire film. He enters a room filled with men all wearing ridiculous outfits and with enormous muscles. They are all a very happy bunch and besides their size are seemingly harmless. When Rourke walks in the door, he is treated like a celebrity and we finally see his face. It is completely torn up, scared and broken. He is completely different from his pretty boy looks of the mid eighties and you're not sure if its the make up or if it's actually him. The scene continues as a man reads the order of fights for that night. Rourke is sitting in a room putting on his pads when his opponent, Tommy Rotten, walks in the door. If you were to see this man on the street you would most likely run the other way but when he talks to Rourke, he is actually very nice and tender. They then begin to talk about their routine in detail and so does every other wrestler in the room. The scene is actually quite comical but when the fighting starts there is nothing comical about it. Even though the fight is choreographed between the two wrestkers, the pain seems extremely real and I was cringing with every hit.

That is all the detail I will go into but what I can't go without talking about is the acting. Every performance is perfect. Mickey Rourke is fawless as the washed up "Ram". He absolutely believable from start to finish. His stripper girlfriend Marrisa Tomei does a great job. She took on a very hard role, filled with deep emotion and exotic dancing but pulls it off with grace. Rourke's daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood is very good. She brings a lot of youth to the film and she is by far the prettiest person in the movie. Director Darren Aronofsky does an excellent job, taking what could have been an almost ordinary film and making it into something incredible. One review compared him to a young Scorsese, and I completely agree. I seriously admire his versatility having recently directed ultra experimental Sci-Fi Romance, The Fountain.

Every scene is phenomenal and unmissable, do not get up to go to the bathroom during this one! You don't want to miss a second. I give this a 4.5/5 and Rourke is a serious contender for Best Actor and may steal it from Sean Penn. Aronofsky will definitely get a nomination for Best Director and most likely a Best Picture nod. Bruce Springsteen will probably win Best Original Song for "The Wrestler" and possibly some other random nominations. Definitely see this movie before it's too late. 

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree that The Wrestler was one of the best films of the year. Rourke's character is intriguing and complex. The allusion to Jesus was subtle yet a great comparison to his character and life. He alienated his family and destroyed his body and when things couldn't get any worse he was ultimately reborn. He could not stop fighting because to him his life was not defined by his family, friends or dollars in his pocket but rather by his wrestling matches. Without wrestling, life wasn't worth living. I wonder how much was fiction and how much was loosely based on Rourke's own life.