The Wrestler – ***

Posted: July 20, 2012 in 2008, Drama, USA, XXX

This movie has been on my dvd shelf for three years or so. It’s a movie about a professional wrestler who used to be successful in the eighties and has trouble making ends meet now. Yawn. It stars Mickey Rourke. Yawn. But it’s directed by Darren Aronofsky. And it has Evan Rachel Wood playing his daughter.

Evan Rachel Wood is excellent in every single movie I’ve seen of her so far. She’s only in three scenes here but steals the show! This girl should get main leads soon! Aronofsky does a brilliant job in just registering scenes as they happen. He never uses obvious tools to make stories more dramatic or more spectacular. He just shows a guy who used to be very popular in the eighties and now leads an insignificant and struggling life. What makes the movie really good though are the two things that made me postpone watching this awards favorite for so long: wrestling and Mickey Rourke.

Rourke used to be a promising actor in the eighties and now leads a very insignificant life in Hollywood. There couldn’t have been a better choice of actor for this part and truth be told: he is fascinating. His character is a real ‘fuck up’ as his estranged daughter calls him, but thanks to Aronofsky and Rourke himself, it’s a fuck up you can sympathize with. There’s one scene that leans towards cheap tv movie sentiment, where he opens up to his daughter on a New Jersey boardwalk. But it feels very natural. Very honest. He lost the Oscar for best actor against Sean Penn (for Milk), but should have won it. Maybe the industry didn’t like him that much and just appreciated seeing him play a fictionalized version of himself. In any case, Rourke is impressive! And then there’s the wrestling. I’ve never understood the fascination of this form of entertainment. I never understood how people could be fooled in the scripted competition and the over-acting of their ‘athletes’. It was interesting to see how the show gets prepared in the locker rooms. Enemies in the box turn out to be buddies once the show is over. It almost makes you have respect for the show they deliver. Because in the end it’s all about pleasing the audience.

Well directed, well acted, well scripted. This movie definitely pleased me. Shouldn’t have waited so long to watch it.

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