17 January 2009

At the movies: The Wrestler.

Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was one of the biggest names in Professional Wrestling during its late-80s heyday. But the intervening decades have been hard on The Ram, now reduced to autograph shows, ritualized bloodletting at small venues, and doing time behind a deli counter. Going nowhere slowly, with an estranged daughter and a nebulous relationship with exotic dancer Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), The Ram is feeling the hurt- of life.

Deafening praise has followed Mickey Rourke's staggering acheivement in this film since its premiere at the 2008 Venice Film Festival, and that's only increased with his Best Actor win at the Golden Globes last week. Comeback of the Year, people have been saying, and they're pretty much right: Rourke is vaulting out of his time spent in direct-to-video efforts and cashing empty paychecks with this heart-filled tale of redemption and violence.

Everything you've heard is true. Rourke is dynamite, inhabiting the wounded skin of Randy Robinson like someone who has been equally beaten down by life. Tomei is just as good, and director Darren Aronofsky has rebounded from his catastrophic 2006 The Fountain with his most engaging and accessible film. The script could have been
a movie of the week in the wrong hands, and Rourke and crew elevate it into a transcendentalist masterpiece of physical memory.

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