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THE WRESTLER

Director: DARREN ARONOFSKY

U.S.A. • 2008 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 109 MIN


MICKEY ROURKE GIVES THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS LIFE AS A WASHED-UP WRESTLER IN THIS BIG-HEARTED, UNFLINCHING DRAMA FROM REQUIEM FOR A DREAM DIRECTOR DARREN ARONOFSKY, WHO DELIVERS HIS MOST GROUNDED FILM BY HANGING BACK AND WATCHING ROURKE INHABIT THE ROLE OF RANDY ‘THE RAM’ ROBINSON.
Years on from his 1980’s heyday, Robinson is now a battered hulk scuffling around for what he can get — a fair description of Rourke’s career trajectory before this film landed him back in the spotlight. We see him put his body on the line for peanuts, wondering just what the future holds when he can barely meet the rent. Bless him, he tries to repair some of the long-broken bridges with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), but the only one who seems to offer genuine understanding is Vixen (Marisa Tomei, an affectingly exposed turn in every respect), a stripper predictably wary of getting involved with customers.
Certainly there are stock characters here, but the film’s power derives from the way it immerses us in its particular universe. There’s palpable respect between the fighters, for instance, as they discuss their prearranged moves before a contest, even when the said spectacle is a truly tawdry affair utilising staple guns and worse. Indeed, what’s so endearing about Rourke’s remarkable contribution is the boyish chivalry which somehow still flickers on his rugged features. Here’s a man determined not to submit to the tragedy of his profession, to which he’s given everything and been left with so very little. For Rourke though, this is surely vindication for the great ‘lost’ talent of his generation. — Trevor Johnston.

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