Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Wrestler directed by Darren Aronofsky

The Wrestler is the story of Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a professional wrestler twenty years past his prime. After a heart attack and bypass surgery he tries to reconnect with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and start a relationship with a stripper (Marisa Tomei), but the ring eventually pulls him back home.

Stylistically the direction of the film mirrors the state of Robinson's life. Aronofsky often follows Rourke with a handheld camera, shooting The Wrestler in a style much closer to a documentary than his previous efforts. The result is the opposite of the sort of spectacle that was Robinson's life in his heyday. This is life after fame.

As far as Rourke's performance goes, I'm happy to say that the Motorcycle Boy reigns once again. His performance drives the movie, and it's not hard to see why the award nominations are starting to appear.

Unfortunately, the film's flaw presents itself when the story tries to meet our expectations. In order to succeed in keeping his new found life, Robinson has to avoid wrestling. However, if Robinson were to follow through on this heroic journey, we wouldn't have the big finish that mainstream audiences expect. The choice is made to contrive against Robinson's character arc to appease this expectation. Ultimately disappointment in our hero is the result.

Despite the problems with the story, I would see The Wrestler's performance again for Rourke's performance alone. Hopefully he'll stay in the ring this time.

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