Monday, February 09, 2009

Movie Review: The Wrestler

“It's best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix bird in you so you rise from the ashes.” Anne Baxter

In Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ – Mickey Rourke’s Phoenix has risen finally and with any luck he will continue to rise.

Rourke plays the battered and broken Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, a professional wrestler who is twenty years beyond his prime but does not know how to do anything else. Not only is Randy’s body battered, but his life is a shambles as well. Nearly penniless, he lives from performance paycheck to performance paycheck, vainly attempting to regain the glory of days gone by. While we all know that wrestling is entertainment, the physical aspect of it is real and the years have taken a toll on Randy. Between the abuse of steroids, alcohol and drugs, Randy’s body is at its capacity and finally reaches it’s limit as his heart finally gives out after a particularly brutal ‘performance’.

Prompted by the stripper Cassidy, his only friend (and hopeful love interest) played with gusto by Marisa Tomei, Randy sets out to repair his relationship with his abandoned daughter whom he has not seen since she has been a small child. The reconnection of father and daughter and the inevitable conclusion is Aronofsky’s finest work – his connection with the actors and the settings around them capture the moments of each scene perfectly. Randy and his daughter walk through the battered and ruined remains of the boardwalk of the Jersey shores, reminiscing of days past, reconnecting if only for a moment; their surroundings broken and bruised as Randy, the buildings are a shambles as is their relationship.

Mickey Rourke has returned in this film with an Oscar worthy performance. Let’s hope that he can continue the upward climb and not fall back again into obscurity. Next up for Rourke is Iron Man 2, perhaps he can continue to make solid choices.

Four Stars

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