Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Frank Review of "The Wrestler" (2008)

The Short Version? WWE leftover's last days.
What Is It? Drama.
Who's In It? Mickey Rourke,
Marisa Tomei
Should I See It? Yes.

The Wrestler is a funny movie. I don't mean funny ha-ha, though it has its moments, but in how it's being received. You see, I became a Darren Aronofsky fan after seeing "The Fountain," which most found maudlin. "Pi" was interesting, but the critically-acclaimed "Requiem for a Dream" left me shaking my head. So now I've seen the director's latest work, which is almost universally well received, and I just think it's okay. The film reminds me of every other silly sports movie about a grizzled old veteran reaching for the brass ring one last time. Also, The Wrestler is one of the few films Aronofsky didn't write for himself. Even while peering into the lives of the doomed junkies in "Requiem," Aronofsky always seemed empathetic towards his subjects. Here, there's a pervasive sense of satire, as though Aronofsky is mocking his characters with the utmost sincerity. The film is also shot handheld, where Aronofsky's work was growing increasingly more pristine and calculated. The look works for the project, but between its shooting style, '80s callbacks, and subject matter, I'm reminded more of the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster* than anything.

Mickey Rourke continues to remind audiences of what they saw in him before his long downward spiral into self-parody. His plastic features even serve him for once, as it perfectly suits his character. Marisa Tomei plays the stripper with the heart of gold, still trying to retroactively earn her supporting Oscar. God bless her still very tight body, on full display, by the way. Even Rachael Wood plays the wayward daughter, bringing a lot of weight to what amounts to a handul of scenes and an under written part. Everyone performs, but they're in a darker and sexier than average Disney career revival flick. It's a crowd-pleaser, but challenging? Artful? Not so much.

Added bones: Mickey Rourke's hilarious, NSFW '09 Spirit Awards Acceptance Speech for Best Male Lead...

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