The Wrestler (USA; 109 min.)

directed by: Darren Aronofsky
starring: Mickey Rourke; Marisa Tomei; Evan Rachel Wood; Mark Margolis; Todd Barry
The Wrestler

Gil & Amanda say: "Comeback of the year! Mickey Rourke is Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, a washed-up professional wrestler whose glory days are long-gone. Instead of playing to sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, Robinson must now settle for wrestling in front of a few hundred bloodthirsty diehards in school gymnasiums. While hard to watch at times (especially the barbed wire match), Aronofsky brings a complete character study of a man who doesn’t know how to function out of the limelight. Introduction by Darren Aronofsky, no Q&A. 4.5 cats"

Michael says: "Darren Aronofsky returns with a dramatic portrait of the life of an aging wrestler.  The mastermind behind PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (and more recently, the unfortunate THE FOUNTAIN), takes a more straightforward approach here, and while ultimately I found THE WRESTLER to be a little uneven, it’s still a strong return for a talented filmmaker.  Much has been made of star Mickey Rourke’s comeback performance in THE WRESTLER, even to the point of awarding him a Golden Globe nomination, and while he was very good, sometimes I think for many critics, allowing yourself to look bad on screen means you’ve put in an amazing performance.  I actually found Marissa Tomei to be the stronger of the two actors, and have been consistently impressed by the strength of her acting ability through her career.  Playing a stripper who Rourke’s Randy 'The Ram' is pursuing romantically, Tomei takes a pretty stereotypical character that we’ve seen countless times in the movies and makes her seem pretty real.  And she looks better than ever now that she’s in her 40s. 

"What makes THE WRESTLER work for me is how it’s actually a story about all the people who rely on their physicality for their career, whether they are a wrestler, a stripper, an athlete or an actor.  The film draws a nice parallel between Randy and Cassidy (Tomei) without being too obvious.  Unfortunately, screenwriter Robert Siegel goes for the big, over-the-top drama, so fitting for a movie about wrestling, than what I hope was going to be the story arc midway through the film.  I started out watching THE WRESTLER and not being terribly impressed as we follow Randy through this later part of his career, wrestling in American Legion Halls, and putting his body through pretty disgusting situations to make a few bucks.  When a physical crisis occurs, Randy retires, and for awhile, the film was really genius.  I thought we were going to see a quiet, thoughtful portrait of a man who lived much of his life in the limelight, now faced with the reality of aging, must give it up and focus on other things.  Unfortunately, this being the movie biz and all, the drama must ramp up again at the end to dizzying heights, which took away from the story in my opinion.  Then right at the end, everything came together rather nicely and the film ended on an up note for me.  So, while uneven, I ended up with a positive feeling toward THE WRESTLER.  4 cats.

Carolyn says: "Not interested in the wrestling and there wasn't as much to the relationship story as the preview let on.  3 cats:

Barbara says: "Although parts of it are tough to watch, I thought Mickey Rourke was great.  Marisa Tomei was good but I can’t understand why she was nominated for an Academy Award.

"If you are squeamish (Mary M.), this might not be a movie for you."

Diane says: "Through an unfortunate wrong turn out of the ladies' room, I only saw
the second half of THE WRESTLER. Reviewers have said that THE WRESTLER is cliched. I guess that's born out by the fact that I didn't realize I had missed anything until the movie ended, to my surprise, 45 minutes after it 'began.' That is to say, my mind easily supplied the backstory on the girlfriend and the daughter. (And I wasn't the only

"I decided to be satisfied with what I'd seen, especially because the deli scene is the heart, soul, and highlight of the movie (like Viola Davis' scene is for DOUBT?). I've always been a big fan of Mickey Rourke and was so happy to see him again. He's got a best actor nom from me. And the hair extensions get that category Chlotrudis used to
have: special performance by something other than a person?"