Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Wrestler

"I'm an old broken down piece of meat and I deserve to be all alone

Written by: Robert D. Spiegel

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

My rating: 10/10


Ok, so a part of me really loved Rocky Balboa for it's sensitive treatment of the ageing sports legend but part of me knew it was a chickenshit movie and due to a lazy ending, only mediocre. The Wrestler is what Rocky Balboa could have been if Stallone had the balls that Mickey Rourke and Darren Aronofsky have. The Wrestler follows the flagging career of an ageing, you guessed it, wrestler. In his prime Randall "the Ram" Robinson was a true wrestling star, complete with Nintendo game and action figures. However, 20 years on he is still competing in matches with younger men and pumping himself full of steroids in order to keep up. His body is giving up and he is coming to terms with his limitations, giving the impression that this is the first time he has ever had to consider such a thing.

To say that Mickey Rourke puts in the performance of his career is an understatement. He puts in one of the greatest performances anyone has ever given. Due to the obvious parallels to his own life, it is insanely brave to take on this role with the passion and vigour that Rourke goes for here. His crumbling exterior, his grotesquely bulky body, it all seems like Rourke is taking a long hard look in the mirror and coming to terms with what he has become.

The film deals with so many issues that we have seen onscreen before, but Aronofsky is a deft hand at revitalising stories with his kinetic camerawork. A completely new style for the director, the stripped-bare, warts n all cinematography is just as intense as his usual fast-paced, punchy style. In fact, it seemed he learned a lot of lessons from his overly-ambitious last film "The Fountain". His latest film is personal and intimate, yet no less involving.

When I heard the Oscar nominations this year, I was shocked to find that this wasn't nominated for a screenplay award. Actually, I was disgusted. The dialogue in theis film is so streamlined and natural that it nicely covers how deliberate and important every single word is in giving the audience a sense of a man living forever in his glory days. His refusal to listen to anything post-Cobain, or to play video games that aren't Nintendo are little illustrations of his tendency to live in the past.

This film is a tragedy, an epic tragedy that doesn't over-indulge in melodrama. It actually goes so far as to bring the story to the point of melodrama, then fade to black, leaving the devastated adience to deal with their feelings themselves, without the help of closure or sad music (although Springsteen's beautiful theme song, The Wrestler is aptly heart-wrenching).

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. It is beautiful, eloquent and inspiring, with superb performances and I must say it's worth watching just to see what came of Aronofsky's makeover from flashy to verite!

- Charlene Lydon (25/1/09)

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