The Wrestler Darren Aronofsky

The Wrestler Darren Aronofsky
The Wrestler received a great deal of acclaim for its actors when it was released theatrically last winter. It's true Mickey Rourke delivers the best performance of his career and Marisa Tomei is wonderful as his love interest but it's a shame that these career highs overshadowed the work of director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream). By reining in his flashy trademark style, Aronofsky proves how versatile a director he can be, willing to tailor his approach to the subject matter rather than vice versa. Aronofsky and screenwriter Robert D. Siegel (who used to write for satirical newspaper The Onion) place the focus on realism — the look and pacing of the film allow the audience to truly empathize with a character that could have otherwise seemed unrelentingly pathetic. From the first shot of the film, Aronofsky makes us feel as though we're literally walking in the wrestler's shoes. Mickey Rourke embodies Randy "the Ram" Robinson, an over-the-hill pro wrestler now fighting in high school gymnasiums and selling autographs at nostalgia shows. When Randy has a heart attack, he's forced to choose between a career that might kill him and rebuilding the fragments of his life that include an estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and a friendship with an aging stripper (Tomei). The Wrestler is a modest film, small in scope, with the focus always on the characters, but it resonates profoundly, never hitting an inauthentic note. When Randy succeeds we're elated, when he fucks up it's heartbreaking. This is the kind of great character-driven drama that they used to make back in the '70s, and it's one of the best films of recent times. Disappointingly, the only special feature on the disc is a music video for Bruce Springsteen's song "The Wrestler." It would have been nice to get a commentary track, or maybe even a clip of Mickey Rourke's inebriated acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards. As per usual, the consumer is put in the awkward position of deciding between owning a barebones version of the film or waiting for the inevitable special edition DVD. (Fox Searchlight)