Sunday, January 25, 2009
Film Review - The Wrestler
The Wrestler (15)
Dir. Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Pi)
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
Let’s get ready to rumble…
“In this life you can lose everything you love, everything that loves you. A lot of people told me that I'd never wrestle again, the only one that's gonna tell me when I'm through doing my thing, is you people here…” but enough about my personal life, what about this new film that sees a never better Mickey Rourke deliver the performance of a lifetime?
Who’d have thought that the tale of a bruised and haggard washed up pro wrestler could be so compelling; I’m not even a fan of the men in spandex generally. But this is a real tour-de-force that sees a lifetime of bad decisions by Rourke finally paying off in the shape of the valiant but broken Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Here is a man still living off his halcyon era back in the 80’s when he was the star of Nintendo games and had his own blonde mulleted action figure. Now he eeks out a meagre living playing staged bouts on a local scene that are large on blood and spectacle but low on athleticism. A shadow of his celebrity chair breaking ‘pay per view’ days - imagine a more weathered Rocky Balboa in day glow outfit, living in a trailer park and dreaming of finding love before it’s too late.
Director Aronofsky follows up his weird and wonderful ‘The Fountain’ with a semi documentary of a loveable perpetual screw up who might have a lion’s heart but whose weary frame is simply too old to change.
Can a terminal loser like Randy find redemption in the arms of lap dancer Cassidy (Marisa ‘Before the Devil Knows You're Dead’ Tomei)? They certainly share a bond of being past their best and as she struggles as a single mum, he is estranged from his gorgeous daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood - girlfriend of Marilyn Manson - lucky swine).
The New Jersey setting is effectively used, all brutal greys and unflinchingly chilly vistas, which serve as excellent contrast to the cheesy wrestling arenas and neon strip bars.
The Wrestler is an amazing film and is rightly receiving award attention – you can’t help but feel that Rouke is exorcising personal demons in this role which drips self destructive authenticity from every battered pore. Aronofsky is gearing up to re-launch the Robocop franchise next which is a very exciting prospect given his remarkable track record for films to date. And wherever Rouke goes from here he can look back on having created an iconic screen character that will be long remembered
Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating: ööööööööö (9 - GREAT)
Darkmatters quick reference guide (new for 2009):
Action 7, Style 8, Babes 7, Comedy 6, Spiritual Enlightenment 7
+ I never thought that a role would suit Rouke more than Marv in Sin City but this is the one...
Best line: "I'm an old broken down piece of meat and I deserve to be all alone, I just don't want you to hate me."