The Wrestler

The Wrestler

Dir Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

There is a moment in The Wrestler when broken down and teary-eyed grappler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson confesses to his estranged daughter that he’s just a ‘broken down piece of meat’. Many actors are capable of pulling off this scene capably, but Mickey Rourke, himself a near unrecognisable shadow of his former self, makes us believe it. This is Rourke’s film, he gives a performance both moving and frightening in its authenticity. Randy is that most common of movie sportsman, the broken down pro, yet imbued with Rourke’s world weary stare and gravelled tones the cliché fades away and we genuinely care about the character.

For the most part it’s a one-man show although solid support comes from Marisa Tomei as an ageing stripper (like Rourke, Tomei squeezes every last drop of emotion from a clichéd role) and Evan Rachel Wood as Randy’s daughter.  

 

This is a triumph for Aronofsky, whose promising career has been sullied by the bleak masterpiece Requiem For A Dream and the distinctly marmite The Fountain, no one could have predicted he would follow up with a sports flick. Yet here it is, a genre picture dripping with the director’s penchant for the naturalistic, telling a story not afraid to be defeatist. It’s a strange mix of the old and the new. Choosing a cinema verite style, Aronofsky highlights the stark reality of his subject’s life. As Randy floats through his hollow existence, we observe him through a dogme-esque lens, peer as the grim cold of the trailer park gives way to the ferocity of the wrestling matches. The fights themselves are a thing to behold. Ferocious (and bloody) rucks where the quirky combatants act out scenarios they plan backstage.

 

Yet like all good sports movies, it’s not the sport that’s important and The Wrestler excels because of Rourke, the broken down actor reclaiming lost glories. It’s easy to forget in this post Sin City world that he was once the next big thing. The wrestler should provide proof of this long forgotten actors strength.

 

 

9/10

Editor's Choice

 

                   

Kenneth Talbot

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