The Wrestler (15)



Drama (2008)
109mins US

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer(s): Robert D Siegel
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

After years of physical wear and tear inside the wrestling ring, Randy "The Ram" Robinson is struggling to keep up with the physical demands of his low paid exhibition matches in front of the adoring fans. After one gruelling bout, he suffers acute pain in his chest and is told that unless he rests up, his heart will give up entirely. Forced to live in the real world for a change, Randy strives to re-connect with his estranged daughter, Stephanie, and to pursue a burgeoning roamnce with stripper Cassidy. However, the lure of the wrestling ring proves too great.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Wrestler

After years of largely forgettable supporting roles, Mickey Rourke makes a spectacular comeback in the title role of director Darren Aronofsky's hard-hitting drama...

The Wrestler. TM and Copyright 2005 Fox Packing the sort of hefty emotional punch suggested by its title, The Wrestler is a mesmerizing account of one man's painful quest to realise his dreams, at any cost. It's a brilliantly crafted slice of life, shot predominantly on handheld cameras by cinematographer Maryse Alberti to keep us uncomfortably close to the characters as they grapple for supremacy in the wrestling ring, to the delight of the baying masses. Rourke is the beating heart of the picture and he is simply spellbinding as a veteran bruiser, who refuses to stay down and out for the count when fate knocks him onto the ropes. Battered and bruised, he copes magnificently with the obvious physical demands of the role but also captures the character's internal conflict, bawling his eyes out as he laments, "I'm an old broken-down piece of meat, and I'm alone, and I deserve to be alone." It's a virtuoso performance that should give Sean Penn a run for the Best Actor statuette at this year's Academy Awards.

After years of physical wear and tear inside the wrestling ring, Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Rourke) is struggling to keep up with the pace of the low paid exhibition matches. After one gruelling bout, he suffers acute pain in his chest and is told that unless he rests up, his heart will give up entirely. Forced to live in the real world, fading lord of the ring Randy ekes out a meagre living behind the deli counter of a local supermarket and strives to re-connect with his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). He also pursues a romance with lap dancer Cassidy (Marisa Tomei). However, the lure of the wrestling ring proves too great and when a promoter promises a big payday for a re-match with arch-nemesis The Ayatollah, Randy risks everything to perform one final time.

The Wrestler. TM and Copyright 2005 Fox The Wrestler knocks us out with its stellar cast, unfussy direction and heart-wrenching dialogue. Scenes between Randy and his daughter are particularly moving, degenerating into more tears when the errant father lets down Stephanie once again. "There is no more fixing this. It's broke, permanently!" screams Wood, giving a riveting supporting performance to match Tomei's revelatory turn as a single mother on the edge. Fight sequences are orchestrated with brio and look horribly realistic, like a staple gun firing into bare flesh. One extreme, bone-crunching showdown involving shards of broken glass, barbed wire and a step ladder will churn even the strongest stomach and have you witnessing the carnage through your fingers. When Aronofsky's film enters its final round, the resolution lingers long in the memory.

- Kim Hu


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