I saw the movie at the world premiere in Venice and Mickey Rourke, Darren Aronofsky and other crew members were also in the audience. When the credits began, people were jumping out of their seats including me applauding and cheering for more than 15 minutes. It was really amazing. I have been a Rourke fan for 10 years now and to me Darren Aronofsky is one of the greatest directors of the last ten years. So when I entered the cinema my expectations were as high as never before. But this 40 Euro ticket was worth every cent. I never saw such a moving performance by "Sir Eddie Cook" <more>
who played Randy "the Ram" with such authenticity that I was paralyzed for almost two hours. And that's because Rourke isn't just playing "Ram", he IS "Ram", at least a part of him there are many parallels to his real troubled past . Aronofsky really did a great job and really pushed the actors to their limits. It is amazing to see how a good director can turn such a simple story into one of the greatest movies I have ever seen and I watch hundreds of movies . So everybody who grew up in the 80's with wrestling, hard rock and Nintendo or just loves movies should see this - at least ten times. God bless you Darren, Mickey and all the other crew members for the best cinema experience I have ever had. no doubt about it.
I caught an advanced screening of The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke last night in Hollywood, CA. Following the screening was a Q&A session with Mickey Rourke, Darren Aronofsky, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and film composer Clint Mansell.Mickey Rourke delivers one of the most honest and heart breaking performances I've seen from an actor. Very rarely do you see an actor come back with such a role. He is truly extraordinary in The Wrestler. There are times in this film when I wonder just how much of this is Mickey in character as "The Ram" or Mickey reacting as Mickey to <more>
a situation similar to what he went through in his "lost years". The parallels are astounding. There is a scene when Randy "The Ram" is in the ring and he points to the audience "It is not over until you tell me it's over". Is it Mickey or Randy talking there? As a newly revived Mickey Rourke fan, I can tell you this audience member says it's just beginning Mickey!Marissa Tomei delivers a stellar performance as an aging exotic dancer the parallel story to Mickey's character "The Ram". Evan Rachel Wood really brings it as "The Rams" angry, abandoned and emotionally exhausted daughter. The chemistry between Mickey and Evan is breath taking!Darren Aronofsky delivers this story to us with honesty, realism and artistic skill. I think this young director will be around making fantastic films for some time to come. At least I hope he is!You can't go wrong with this film. It is rock solid to the core!Facts from the Q&AOnly the 3rd American Film to with the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.The film was made for $7 Million.The filmscore is more atmospheric as the composer did not want to interfere with the documentary feel of the film.Mickey Rourke trained for 6 months to get to the wrestling weight of 235 for the film. Weight training, wrestling training and eating 5,000 calories.The scenes of Mickey Rourke and Evan Rachel Wood were as real as they could get. The actors put on music before the scene and just talked about their real life and Mickey's parallels to the film. When the director felt they were there he would yell action and they would work through the scene. The scenes back stage with the wrestlers were all real as well. The crew would go to wrestling matches and film the wrestlers before/after matches. Mickey would walk in and introduce himself in character and the scene was improvised. The film was about 20-30% improvisation from the actors.
The Wrestler is a drama centered around an aging professional wrestler past his prime. It's so much more than that. You don't have to be a fan of wrestling to enjoy this film. The wrestling part of it can be put aside as a back story. Randy "The Ram" could be in any other profession, doing any other thing and could be in the same situation. That's what's so great about it. He's just a lonely guy, whose life seems to have passed him by. A middle aged man who doesn't have much going for him. Sure, he's a wrestler, but he needs wrestling more than wrestling <more>
needs him. He needs it to feel important, to feel like a somebody. He really has nothing to show for himself, no wife, just a daughter he hasn't been there for his whole life. Missed opportunities. He's sad and alone and we really do feel for him.A closer bond seems to be forming between him and his stripper friend, played by Marisa Tomei, who seems to be in a similar situation as he is. The middle aged stripper who seems to have a real connection with "The Ram" is shown in another misunderstood profession. We all may not be as different as we may think. Health problems compromise his wrestling career as he tries to deal with the real world and rebuild his relationship with his abandoned daughter. The scenes with Evan Rachel Wood his daughter are touching. Beautifully done. Rourke's character portrayal of the Ram is one of the best in a long time. He's not just acting, he transforms into the character on screen. It's amazing to watch. All the credit he's getting is truly deserved.The film is Directed by Darren Aronofsky, who also directed Requiem for a Dream. He does a beautiful job showing the sport with realism. The film respects the wrestlers and their world, and expects the same from the audience. This film is done in a style that's so real, so honest, so amazing, in easily one of the best films of the year. All around great performances and great direction. Definitely worth checking out sometime.
An excellent drama about an aging wrestler (by grmagne)
The Wrestler won the Golden Lion a few days ago in Venice. Obviously that's going to build up some high expectations but director Darren Aronofsky introduced it as a "simple little film" and he didn't want the movie to get over-hyped. He said it's been a busy week as he only finished the film 6 days ago!! Randy "The Ram" Robinson, played brilliantly by Mickey Rourke, was a star professional wrestler in the 1980s. He had a legendary pay-per-view match against the Ayatollah in his prime, his own Nintendo game, posters, "Best of The Ram" VHS series and <more>
legions of fans who worshipped him. The film begins in the present day with The Ram collecting a paltry sum of money for his latest fight only to discover he's been locked out of his trailer home because he's behind on his rent. He has a good physique for his age - with the aid of steroids and tanning salons - he still has good friends in the local wrestling brotherhood and he enjoys hanging out with Cassidy played by Marisa Tomei at the strip club where she works. He's a likable guy and the neighbourhood kids look up to him as a hero, so it's easy to root for this washed-up old wrestler as he participates in choreographed, yet amazingly bloody, wrestling matches. He struggles to pay the rent while also searching for deeper meaning in his life as he knows that he can't wrestle forever. However, wrestling is the only thing he's good at, and he lives for those precious moments when he stands on the top turnbuckle and his adoring fans cheer his name but once he steps out of the ring his life is a mess. He'd like to reconcile with estranged daughter Stefanie played by Evan Rachel Wood but she hates him after he abandoned her in her youth. He's never given her a birthday gift, probably because he doesn't know which day it is.There's a parallel story with Cassidy, an aging stripper. She also knows that her career is coming to an end, but unlike The Ram she seems to have plans after she retires, and her finances are in good order. They've obviously known each other for quite some time, and though there seems to be some mutual attraction Cassidy has always followed the rule "don't get involved with a customer". They have a complex relationship that changes throughout the film, but you can always feel that Cassidy cares about his well-being.This movie works because it feels so real. All the characters are so natural in their roles that you'll feel drawn into this world of wrestling. Mickey Rourke doesn't just play a wrestler, he is a wrestling star, he is Randy The Ram in every way. The wrestling scenes were also amazingly crafted and you can see Randy build off the crowd's excitement. The film does a great job of showing why so many fans love "fake" wrestling.I thoroughly enjoyed this little film but it's not for all tastes. It's gritty, raw, sometimes depressing, sometimes funny, and yeah I'll admit that I cried. A 9.5/10 for me and it's a must-see for wrestling fans especially from 1980s era and, obviously, anyone who enjoyed the previous works of Aranofsky and/or Rourke. Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei were both outstanding and Evan Rachel Wood also shone in her supporting role.
Mickey Rourke is as great as everyone's saying he is. (by nonsequitur247)
Nicholas Cage? Bruce Willis? Wrong. Never would have worked. No one else could have played Randy "The Ram" Robinson with the compassion and energy he brings to the role--it's painful to see the fading professional wrestler coming to terms with both his mortality and the emptiness of his life outside the ring, and this is largely due to Rourke's excellent acting. Twenty years after the defining match of his career, Randy is still a fan favorite and loving his work--until he suffers a heart attack. The film follows the gentle giant as he tries to adjust to living without <more>
wrestling, reconnect with his estranged daughter Evan Rachel Wood , and kindle a bond with a friend who works in a strip club Marisa Tomei .This isn't just a film about professional wrestling, but Aronofsky gets that part right. He does a beautiful job showing the sport with realism without mocking it: he highlights the humor, but never makes fun of it. He doesn't just deconstruct the mythical image of wrestlers' performances, but he also destroys their apparent rage towards each other. It's clear that these guys are friends--they care about and respect each other. These other wrestlers in the film are all played by professionals, and they do a great job with the acting. The film respects them and their world, and demands the same from the audience.The other supporting characters are strong as well. Tomei and Wood's characters could easily have fallen into clichés, but they give Randy some of his best moments on screen. Tomei's storyline, especially, serves as a nice parallel and contrast to Randy's. Wood's could use a little more juice, but her story arc does the same. Both are effective.Another notable aspect of the film is its music. The character of Randy is a big '80s rock fan, and for the film, they got the rights to use Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine." A special thanks at the end of the film went out to Axl Rose. On the softer side, Bruce Springsteen wrote "The Wrestler" for the credits, and its sweet melancholy serves as the perfect coda for the film.Overall, 'The Wrestler' is great. It's a rich, round film that smoothly weaves together pathos and comedy and soul. It's funny and dramatic, tear-jerking and tough. Definitely a must-see this winter.
The Return of Mickey Rourke (by littlemartinarocena)
Very rarely an artistic come back is so pointed, so truthful and/or so honest. Mickey Rourke is extraordinary here and I can assure you, he'll break your heart. "It's not over until you pointing at the audience tell me its over" Who was saying that? Mickey Rourke himself or his character? Both, I think both. I felt a chill run down my spine, the kind of chill you feel when confronted by an unvarnished truth. Darren Aronofsky is definitely someone to watch and to follow. His characters face limit situations and he finds torturous paths for them to travel. What makes the <more>
whole thing endurable is the unmistakable signs of self awareness. In "The Wrestler" the painful meeting between Ram and his daughter played by Evan Rachel Wood have the overwhelming weight of the truth without a hint of sentimentality. As we are approaching Oscar season I imagine already a fight to the finish between Sean Penn for "Milk" and Mickey Rourke for "The Wrestler" They both deserve the highest accolade. What a year!
Charisma, heart, and hard work make a comeback of a has-been (by Chris Knipp)
Billed as Mickey Rourke's big comeback, this film is the finale presentation of the New York Film Festival 2008. Awarded in Venice and shown at Toronto, it features a winning performance by Rourke. It's a simple story, a mixture of raw authenticity and old fashioned corn about a washed up professional wrestler who's 20 years past his prime and resists admitting it till he has a heart attack and is forced t turn to the only two people he has in his life, a lap dancer and an estranged daughter. It's pretty monochromatic and claustrophobic, but the tiny framework shows off <more>
Rourke's generous, authoritative performance. Rourke's weathered, soulful face and sweet-sad smile sell the movie.Early scenes establish that Randy 'The Ram' Robinson Rourke , who has long graying bleach-blond hair and wears a hearing aid, still has fans from his heyday in the 80's and warm contacts in the pro wrestler community of today, who give him work on weekends. He's well liked kids in his neighborhood clamor around him , and takes life's hard knocks with patience--and that smile.But all is not well. The first night we see him after a fight locked out of his trailer because he owes the manager money. He lives alone, has a shaky relationship with a lap dancer, work name Cassidy Marisa Tomei . His lesbian daughter Stephanie Evan Rachel Wood , who's in school, despises him for not being there when he was needed. We're in the world of numbed pain and charred, sealed-away emotions here.The second evening of fights pits the Ram against an S/M wrestler who uses a staple gun on him, and broken glass, and barbed wire. Ram collapses after this fight and wakes up in intensive care after a bypass operation. The hospital is the real beginning of the film, though Rourke and the filmmakers are over-committed to the wrestling scene, and stage more painful and realistic bouts, in which all the fighters other than Rourke were professionals.Ram realizes he's not the man he was. The doctor has told him he can't wrestle any more. He tries to jog and can't. Helpless and alone, he turns to Cassidy whose real name is Pam , but she is reluctant to admit he's more than a customer. He visits his daughter, but she is extremely hostile. In just a couple scenes, Evan Rachel Wood is raw and powerful. Tomei is authentic too, having mastered the lap-dancing technique and assimilated its world's mix of sensuality and distance. Rourke/Ram's encounters with both women are painful and memorable.There's a good sense of context, even though Ram's world as shown is narrow. "The 90's f----ing sucked!" he exclaims to Cassidy when he finally coaxes her into having a beer with him outside the club. He hates that bastard Kurt Cobain. Axel Rose was The Man. You realize she's as washed up as he is. She has a 9-year-old kid and wants to quit and somehow get into a condo.The screenplay by Roy Siegel, an original editor of The Onion, has lightness and humor to undercut the melodrama and doom. Ram is a laugh when, after the heart attack, he starts working longer hours at the Jersey Dollar's deli counter, doling out potato salad and ham, joking with the man and flattering the women.Finally after he is pushed away by Cassidy/Pam, on a bad day at the deli, Ram flashily quits and calls a promoter and countermands his resignations, saying the re-match with "The Ayatollah" is on again. The Aronofsky of 'Requiem for a Dream' set a record for determinism, and it's hard not to see this Wrestler as doomed. But the filmmakers' and and cast's involvement in the milieu and Rourke's humility and charm undercut that enough so the final sequence is uncertain and interesting. And all the fights are good.The title 'The Wrestler' can be generic because unlike boxing films, wrestling ones are rare, indeed nonexistent. Rourke himself is a boxer; the switchover wasn't easy, but he had the athletic background, and not only that, the has-been life of his character, a washed-up star in an activity looked down on by all but rabid fans. Few think of it even as a sport, though it requires conditioning and skill and involves constant injuries. In the NYFF Q&A Rourke conveyed a sense of his respect for this activity as a sport, and Aronofsky reported that his work on the mat won the approval of the pros. If this is an iconic performance as some are saying, it's not just Rourke's personal identification with the character's comeback mode, but good hard technical work to make it all authentic.
The Wrestler is an overblown mishmash, saved from utter disaster only by excellent performances from Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomey. For that reason I gave it 5 Stars out of 10 but even 5 Stars was probably too high. Despite a couple of great performances, this gritty, dreary, depressing mess was a failure. Rourke's Wrestler was a quintessential loser, who I could not care about, no matter how I tried. I think I know what Aronofsky, particularly with his, umm, odd ending, had in mind here but, for me at least, it didn't work. Despite brilliant work by Rourke, his character was an <more>
unsympathetic goof who failed at every important responsibility he ever had, leaving me nothing and no one to root for.
The role Mickey Rourke was born to play (by Superunknovvn)
"The Wrestler" is a beautiful movie, but it wouldn't be half as good if Mickey Rourke hadn't given the main character a face and a heart. There's virtually no other Hollywood actor that could have embodied Randy "The Ram" Robinson as perfectly as Rourke, and it's shocking to think how the movie could have turned out had someone else, say Bruce Willis or - as originally planned - Nicolas Cage played the part. With Rourke it's not so much an actor memorizing lines and delivering them convincingly, it's like watching a guy having gone through hell and <more>
now showing his scars. Rourke's performance even lets one overlook some rather clichéd elements in the story the exotic dancer with a golden heart, the neglected daughter, a dance in a romantic dilapidated ballroom . It's all good, because one look at Randy's face reminds us of all the hits and punches he must have taken in the past, and it all becomes real again.So, Rourke obviously makes the movie, but that's not the only remarkable thing. Besides a very good performance by the beautiful Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler" is also worth mentioning because it marks the first time Darren Aronofsky has made a straight forward drama that's not heavy headed or laden with too much symbolism. After the highly pretentious "The Fountain" such a movie was more than due. "The Wrestler" proves that Aronofsky is not only capable of stylistic extravaganza, but can also handle the art of "plain" storytelling.The fine title song by Bruce Springsteen must not be forgotten, either. After "Streets Of Philadelphia" and "Dead Man Walking" this is his third soundtrack contribution that captures the feel of a movie beautifully. Props to Aronofsky for putting an emphasis on that song by letting it play over a black screen for a couple of seconds before the closing credits start to roll.In the end, "The Wrestler" is such a huge success because Aronofsky made the right choice by insisting on Rourke to play the main role, and because Rourke more than lived up to the director's expectations. Sean Penn may have been very good in "Milk", but the character of The Wrestler is a thousand times more interesting and memorable, and considering that fact that Rourke will forever be remembered for this great performance, he would really have deserved the Oscar.