Friday, January 16, 2009

The Wrestler

I wasn't sure what to expect from The Wrestler. I've never seen an Aronofsky film before, although people seem to like his work. Almost all of the hype was over Rourke's performance instead of the story, and I was a bit concerned that that's all there would be. It's a really personal film, and so his acting's obviously at the center of it, but I liked the whole movie overall, all aspects considered. I don't usually watch character studies like this, but being forced into it by my brother, I think I ended up enjoying it more than him. The style is interesting. It sort of feels like a documentary, with long shots just following Mickey around and showing what he does with his life. It's not the most brilliant film making I've ever seen, but it seems to do what it wanted, stay out of the way and let Rourke shine. It's not the sort of bombastic tour de force that easily captures my attention, but there's a ton of heart behind it, and he really makes you care about everything that happens.

The film is authentic and unflinching, being (as far as I know) very close to the truth about wrestling, what these people do behind the scenes and how they live. It's not the most seriously taken profession, but they put a lot on the line for not a whole lot in return, hoping to make it big someday, or make it big again in some cases, like Rourke's. He plays a former professional champion who's gotten old and is stuck in a local amateur league, who goes through a bad experience and has to give it up. He still has some good times, but overall leads a pretty unfortunate life. He tries to make things better for himself without it, but can never completely put it all together and fully right the ship. He tries to get closer to his daughter and a stripper he's always liked, played well by Wood and Tomei, although he never quite gets that right either. Eventually, he realizes what he has to do, and the film ends showing exactly what it needs to. Some may be disappointed by it, but I thought it worked perfectly with the story up to that point. It's a simple story, made strong by the simple truth to all of it and the great acting throughout.

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