Sunday, 18 January 2009

#9 Review For 'The Wrestler'

Darren Aronofsky
Mickey Rourke
Marisa Tomei
Evan Rachel Wood
Robert Siegel
Runnig Time

When watching Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Wrestler’ I couldn’t help but wonder that Mickey Rourke would look like if he hadn’t taken drugs and started boxing. The once handsome young actor in ‘Rumble Fish’ has changed over the past twenty years. But none of that matter’s after seeing ‘The Wrestler’. The role of Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson could not have been written for anyone else. Rourke fits the role perfectly and on reflection I don’t think anyone else couldn't pull of such a performance. However all credit can’t go to Rourke but also to the other cast and crew who brought this great script to life.

The story follows Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson (Rourke) as he tries to fit in with normal life after a heart attack threatens his life. Randy’s wrestling alter ego ‘The Ram’ was a big time fighter back in the 80’s, but now all he is good for is signing photographs for $8 a pop at the local gym with the rest of the washed up wrestlers. Two decades after his glory days, he’s living in a trailer and struggling to pay rent whilst his daughter despises him and his best and only friend is a hooker (played by Marisa Tomei). Whilst Randy tries to pull the people he loves closer they always seem to get pushed away, but is it to late?

Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain) has really done it this time (it being a good thing). The way he shot it really adds to the tone of the film. At the beginning of the majority of the scenes, the camera subjectively follows Randy to where ever the scene will start. With the camera work being used subjectively the film felt like a documentary of Randy’s life after wrestling. Whilst this might not be apparent to most audiences I think it is a fantastic subtle layer to the overall piece. For the beginning five minuets of the movie this method of directing is used, however the audience do not see Rourke’s face until he gets into his van and looks at a picture of himself. A lot of these clever little scenarios happen a lot that shed light onto Randy’s struggle to accept the fact that he isn’t as hot as he use to be.

One of my favourite scenes involves Randy taking another shift at his daily job at a local supermarket, Randy prepares to go to work (with the subjective camera behind him) whilst walking through the back of the store. Slowly but growing, the non-diegetic sounds of claps and shouting start. He stops as he gets to the door before stepping out. He focuses and just as he steps out the non-diegetic applauses fades into his imagination. This tells the story in one scene because it shows that Randy doesn’t want to fit into society but take up his place in a wrestling ring.

‘The Wrestler’ is a story a story of love, pain and glory (as the poster says), that doesn’t disappoint. A fantastic script by Robert Siegel that adds tension, sadness and comedy to the movie. During the parts that are full of tension Siegel breaks with some light comedy. Everyone over the age of twelve knows that wrestling is as fake as the muscles they have and this film shows the passion wrestler's have for there art. It really shows the struggle that wrestlers have to go through much like Martin Scorsese's
'Raging Bull' (1980) did for boxing.

Mickey Rourke does give a performance of a life time and lives up to everyone’s expectations. It’s definitely up there with Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2009) for one of the best films of the year. Know that Rourke has done this I am really looking forward to his next film ‘The Informers’. If you do go to the cinema anytime soon please consider this and you will not regret it.

* * * * *

Oliver Hunt

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