Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky, 2008 (8.2*)
Golden Lion, Venice
[updated 3.15.11]
This film represented a major comeback for actor Mickey Rourke. He's come a long way since his early films like Diner., Pope of Greenwich Village, and Body Heat. In this story of an aging wrestler, Rourke gives the best performance of his career, earning an Oscar® nomination for best actor and winning 14 other awards in the process. (his awards page at IMDB, he's won 21 acting awards! Most came for this, the others for supporing actor in 2005's Sin City and Diner)

Rourke's character is a former "world champ", still with many fans, though he's now a has-been in his mid 40's, and has been beaten down by life. His friend, stripper Marisa Tomei, tries to keep him grounded and alive, but it appears to be a losing battle. Realizing he may not have many years remaining, he attempts to reconcile with his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood, in her first big film since blowing everyone away as the star of Thirteen. It's their big scene together that allows Rourke to do some of his finest acting.

This is probably major new director Darren Aronofsky's most personal, intimate film, yet also his least creative, especially when compared to Requiem for a Dream (2000) or The Fountain (2006), or even his first film, Pi (1998). It's a story that could have easily been filmed in the 50's, perhaps by Elia Kazan or Martin Ritt, a drama about a man well past his prime, trying to decide how to spend the latter part of his life, and to right the mistakes he feels he's made before it's too late. In that regard, it has something to say to us all.

The Wrestler is now #162 all-time on the IMDB top 250, and won 30 awards overall, out of 60 nominations, including two Oscar® nominations for Rourke (actor) and Tomei (supporting actress), who won 7 awards for her performance.


Okami June 19, 2009 at 7:20 PM  

Another great film and an awesome performance by Mickey Rourke, he should have gotten the Academy award.

José Sinclair June 19, 2009 at 8:15 PM  

Yeah, he'll never get a role this good again, most likely - this was his best chance for an Oscar. Sean Penn didn't need two - he's now up there with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March?

I also wish Peter O'Toole had gotten his first for Venus, likely his "last best chance" as well, plus he was terrific, very touching.

They should sometimes perhaps spread them around more, not many people deserve two (DeNiro and Hackman yes, Hanks and Penn, no)

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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