By William Wolf

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2008--THE WRESTLER  Send This Review to a Friend

The dynamic performance by Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler,” directed by Darren Aronofsky and shown at the 2008 York Film Festival, had everyone buzzing with praise. The word was out even before the unveiling, leading to great anticipation and crowded screenings. Rourke more than delivered.

In the stark film, marked by violent, bruising wresting, Rourke plays Randy, a has-been trying to make a comeback and regain dignity that he has squandered in an unsatisfactory personal life. The character is pitiful, but Rourke gets one to root for him as a result of his stunning performance marked by both courage and heartbreak.

One can barely recognize the actor. He has gained considerable weight, and it also looks as if there has been body padding to give him an over-the-top physical appearance more like that of Arnold Schwarzenegger than the Rourke of old. This is clearly one of the year’s memorable acting turns and it is likely to be considered for various awards, the Oscar included.

However, as good as the film is, watching is tough for anyone who can’t stand the intense ugly battling in the ring. The screenplay by Robert Siegel is loaded with clichés, but other casting enhances the film, particularly that of Marisa Tomei as Cassidy, a struggling stripper who is torn between her attraction to Rourke and the need for her to build her own life.


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