Friday, June 10, 2011

The Wrestler

The Wrestler; Drama, USA, 2008; D: Darren Aronofsky, S: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

After a heart attack, the middle-aged wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson realizes he is not completely fit anymore to participate in such an extreme sport. He thus goes on to try to establish long broken ties with his daughter Stephanie, but arrives too late to meet her because he drugged himself at a party; he is in love with stripper Cassidy, but she doesn't want to have a relationship with customers; he tries to have an ordinary job in a store, but it doesn't suit him. Finally, he decides to have a re-match with his old "rival" Ayatollah, where he wins just before a new heart attack.

In "Barton Fink", the main protagonist is trying to write a script for a wrestler, intending to use him as a metaphor for the struggling lower class. It seems as if director Darren Aronofsky took over that idea and brought it to the big screen with "The Wrestler", describing it nicely as a story about a "performer coping with demanding art": in this edition, it squeezes drama through the main protagonist, Randy "The Ram", who is forced to return to wrestling despite his health problems because this is the only world where he gains some respect from people, where he is otherwise completely shunned from his bitter daughter up to his uncertain wannabe girlfriend, stripper Cassidy. Aronofsky improved his style from his previous movies since he abandoned his 'autistic direction' and went on for clear, normal storytelling, which manages to blend both tastes, for wide audience (wrestling milieu) and demanding viewers. However, it's still basically just a too simple example of writing, artificial story flow and standard dialogues enriched by two brilliant performances by Marisa Tomei and refreshingly sincere and fragile Mickey Rourke, who delivered a marvelous comeback role for which he won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA as best actor. The scene where Cassidy tells Randy that she regrets that she kissed him because it was "a mistake", and he tells her that it "certainly did not feel like a mistake", compensates for an occasionally less inspiring moment.


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