Saturday, 17 January 2009

Of The Wrestler

It's another one of those big moments for me. I've finally gotten around to watching The Wrestler. I've been a big fan of Darren Aronofsky since 2007 (talk about coming late to the party), so I've been anticipating this movie for quite some time. And now it's finally in cinemas. It has some really good buzz, particularly about Mickey Rourke's performance as Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Believe this hype. This movie is phenomenal. Okay yes I will tend to be bias as Darren Aronofsky is my favourite working director at the moment, however so far I think he's four for four. He hasn't yet directed a bad film, something which so many directors do. Danny Boyle has the Beach and David Fincher has Alien 3. Whilst some people think that The Fountain was awful, I fucking loved it and I fucking loved this movie as well as Pi and Requiem for a Dream. Darren Aronofsky is an incredible director and I have loved every minute of every movie he has ever directed.

Before you ask, yes this is a drama. It might be called The Wrestler, but honestly wrestling is only the backdrop. The two guys sat behind us in the cinema seemed to be pretty pissed off, however honestly? It's got Golden Globes for gods sake. Do some research! They hated it but this wasn't their sort of movie. They'd probably have preferred a Michael "'splosions" Bay movie. What they saw instead was one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. It might not be as visually stunning as The Fountain but The Wrestler is a different beast. It feels more personal than the epic scope that The Fountain had. In this movie, Darren Aronofsky also proves his maturity as a director. Gone is the MTV editing from Requiem and Pi and gone is the gorgeous special effects of the Fountain. Instead we got something exceedingly different from any of his three preceding films

The Wrestler is shot almost like a documentary. It is almost entirely done using a handheld camera and there are times when the cameraman actually has to try and catch up with Mickey Rourke as he goes along. This hugely benefits the movie as we actually feel like we are following this hulking giant and yet at the same time because it almost always follows behind him and the fact that this camera is never addressed we feel distant from the character. Making his loneliness that bit more poignant. In fact I have never seen a movie that makes a characters back so interesting. A lot of the movie is just following Mickey Rourke around and yet you're hooked. One particular scene has Rourke walking down the stairs to his job at the deli he works at and slowly this crowd begins to pipe up and eventually just as he is about to go through the curtains to his counter and the cheering just gets louder and louder. Then he goes through and it just stops.

Alright I've gone long enough without talking about it. Mickey Rourke as Randy. How was it? Let me just say that I have only ever seen two actors be completely enveloped by a character. They were Heath Ledger as The Joker and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh. I can now bring that number up to three. Mickey Rourke IS Randy "The Ram". Yes the movie is essentially a metaphor for his career, but hell if it isn't a fucking good metaphor. Nicholas Cage who was originally going to play the character could in no way have made the movie as amazing as Mickey Rourke did. Rourke's performance will, no doubt, go down as one of the all time great performance and he elevates this movie to an already amazing level. He shows so many emotions, perfectly naturally. There's humour, depression, love, happiness and anger. It's just perfect how he does and I honestly don't think another actor is going to come along in a while and take this spot. If Rourke doesn't win an Oscar I'm going to be severely upset.

The movie is incredibly moving with some parts just showing this perfect honesty for the character. However other parts are downright gruesome. The movie definitely shows that wrestling is fake. No question. Before hand many of the wrestlers plan out their fights and organise who will win. However some of the beatings they take? Fucking real. Whilst the stuff you will tend to find on Sky Sports is all completely fixed and fake with no real injuries at all, the underground scene shown in this movie is fucking intense. There is actual blood spilled. Some of it self inflicted to enhance the play these two muscle bound men are doing. Other stuff like barbed wire, staple guns and real glass are used and in one of the most cringe worthy scenes ever put to film we watch a fight play out between two men and the aftermath of how they get patched up afterwards. If you've ever wanted to watch a man use a stapler on another man, this is the movie for you.

Overall The Wrestler is an amazing film. It doesn't quite beat Requiem or Fountain but it stands as an amazing achievement. Pi is still the weakest Darren Aronofsky movie but honestly that isn't saying much. This movie stands as one of the most personal movies ever, with amazing acting from Mickey Rourke and strong supporting acts from Marisa Tomei as his striper friend (a lot of breasts are shown in the movie). The movie is deeply affecting and features on of the most brutal scenes I have ever seen. Rourke is a shoe-in for an Oscar and Darren Aronofsky can keep his head held high as he has directed another incredible film. 9.5/10

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