Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Wrestler

"The Wrestler" is all that everyone involved could have possibly hoped for. It's a spectacle of a film, one in which we are offered many interesting ideas: the lack of limits in the sport of wrestling, how the wrestlers are affected, the hunger for violence that the spectators offer. But the film, more than anything, is for Mickey Rourke, who turns in one of the best performances of the decade. In this role, as Randy Robinson, famed wrestler who had his heyday in the eighties. Nowadays, he's been fighting on the local circuit. In the first match we see, we are offered headbanging, bodyslams, and the like. But in match two, the limits expand to awful proportions. Everyday objects are applied as weapons and Robinson suffers a heart attack after his hard match. This puts his long career to a screeching stop.

At this moment, he starts to focus more on his life. He's in love with a stripper named Cassidy/Pam (Marisa Tomei), who devastatingly realizes the fruits of their relationship too late. His daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) has been subjected to too many missed occasions over the years and is now spurning him for his personal wrongdoings. He's lonely, going to work at the local supermarket. But all the time, he's got his finger on a comeback, despite the doctor's warning to stay out of the ring. Rourke's work here is flawless, and he puts real emotional weight on a man who's personal destruction has taken a toll on him. The wrestling's the only thing he's got, and it tempts him too much. Darren Aronofsky, senior director who's previous works include "Pi," "Requiem for a Dream," and the unbearable "The Fountain," creates a harrowing character study where he examines Robinson's desperation, but without Rourke's work, the film may not have amassed to the highest heights it did.

"The Wrestler" is undoubtedly the best American film that 2008 had to offer, and it may even be the best of the year. The raw nature of the film, which dazzles in its subtle moments, moved me. Here's a movie that's engaging, realistic, and devastating. "The Wrestler" has significance in many areas, and it takes a very interesting subject, the real/fake nature of wrestling, and gives it full exposure. It's painful to watch how Rourke/Robinson makes himself bleed for the audience. Is it just me, or does that cross the line into twisted, masochistic mentality? Wrestling is a fascinating sport, but "The Wrestler" shows you the participant's point-of-view. And Rourke won't ever have another role like this one. A

The Wrestler is very violent, has many scenes in strip clubs, and is not, I repeat not, for children.

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