The Wrestler

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/01/2009

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Emotionally engaging, superbly directed drama, with a terrific script and a powerful, award-winning performance by Mickey Rourke.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler stars Mickey Rourke as Randy the Ram, an aging former wrestling star who still scrapes a living on the circuit. After a particularly vicious bout, Randy collapses and is told that he has heart trouble, so he decides to cut down on the wrestling and takes on more hours at his supermarket day job instead.

Meanwhile, Randy pursues a romantic relationship with his favourite lap-dancer (Marisa Tomei) and attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), before it's too late.

The Good
Mickey Rourke won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Randy and it's easy to see why – he delivers a stunning performance that radiates warmth and humanity, particularly in his interactions with everyone he meets, whether it's the children that wake him up in the trailer park, his fellow wrestlers or the customers at the supermarket deli counter. His battered face only adds to the physicality of his performance (at one point he describes himself as an old, broken-down piece of meat) and the overall effect is extremely moving.

There's also strong support from both Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood; Tomei's scenes with Rourke are genuinely sweet, while Wood's eventual heart-to-heart with her father is genuinely moving.

The Great
Aronofsky eschews his flashy directorial flourishes (see: The Fountain) in favour of a stripped down style that recalls the work of the Dardenne brothers, with lengthy, single camera takes and a documentary-like approach that adds considerably to the realism of the film. In addition, the script is excellent (barring a clumsy reference to The Passion of the Christ) and the naturalistic dialogue is laced through with earthy humour, particularly during Randy's dates with Tomei's character.

Worth seeing?
The Wrestler is one of the best films of the year and if it gets ignored at the Oscars, then there is officially no justice. Highly recommended and worth seeing for Rourke's astonishing performance alone.

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The Wrestler
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Content updated: 08/12/2019 17:50

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