The Wrestler


(out of 5)

It’s not easy being a has-been, particularly when you still have the drive but you find the energy harder to muster. Former wrestling champion  is aging and no longer the popular star he once was, his body suffering from years of abuse and his personal life spotted with loneliness. The only relief he gets after a day spent earning a pittance on the ropes to a handful of fans is the time spent with a stripper () with whom he feels a personal connection. The real change in his life happens when a heart attack and subsequent bypass keep him from his competitive sport altogether, encouraging him to put more effort into matters that he has ignored for too long: reuniting with his estranged daughter () and possibly making something real of his relationship with Tomei. Despite a bland script that takes no unpredictable turns, this one has a lot going for it: Darren Aronofsky creates a ripping atmosphere that always seems ready to jump off the screen, and the performances he gets out of the two leads are unforgettable. Rourke makes a fantastic comeback to the big leagues with a performance that turns from bravado to emotional vulnerability with equal ease, making not only a character but an icon out of the role. Tomei is equally remarkable, taking a stock image (movie stripper) and giving it a remarkable amount of gravity; just watch her face when she looks around the club where she works and realizes how much she hates her life. Wood doesn’t fare as well, constantly believing that grabbing her hair while yelling convinces us that she really means what she says, but Rourke is always acting such wondrous circles around her that it doesn’t matter.

USA/France, 2008

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Screenplay by 

Cinematography by 

Produced by Darren Aronofsky,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  TIFF 2008, Venice 2008

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Academy Award Nominations
Best Actor in a Leading Role (Mickey Rourke as “Randy”)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Marisa Tomei as “Cassidy”)

Golden Globe Awards
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama (Mickey Rourke)
Best Original Song-Motion Picture (“The Wrestler”, music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Marisa Tomei)

New York Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Actor (Mickey Rourke)
Best Screenplay (Robert D. Siegel)

Los Angeles Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Actor (Mickey Rourke)

National Society of Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Actor (Mickey Rourke)

National Board Of Review Award
Top Ten Films

Venice Film Festival Award
Golden Lion

Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Mickey Rourke)

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Original Screenplay

British Academy Award
Best Leading Actor (Mickey Rourke)

Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei)

Independent Spirit Awards
Best Feature
Best Male Lead (Mickey Rourke)
Best Cinematography

Toronto Film Critics Award
Best Performance, Male (Mickey Rourke)

Boston Film Critics Award
Best Actor (Mickey Rourke) (tie)

Chicago Film Critics Award
Best Actor (Mickey Rourke)



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