DRAMA; 1hr 49min
STARRING: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
On the way down: Rourke
Remember the Mickey Rourke of 9½ Weeks? The poster boy for bad boys? That Mickey is gone for good in The Wrestler. As Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a washed-up fighter 20 years downhill from a sensational run in the ring, Rourke is as craggy as the Grand Canyon. His body is a bundle of muscle but Randy has a weak heart and he's dog-tired: he lives alone in a New Jersey trailer park, is estranged from his daughter (Wood), has a thing for a guarded stripper (Tomei, always lovely), works weekdays in a supermarket and thuds like a blunderbuss through two-bit weekend matches.
Yet still he struggles to stay in the game. The tawdry theatricality and offstage camaraderie of the wrestling ring is his adrenaline drip, and director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream) — never one to pussyfoot around the edge of reality — delivers its brutality in bloodied chunks. But this is no brawnfest: Robert Siegel’s screenplay is a marvel of quiet observation and Rourke’s wounded sorrow is life-sized heartbreak.