Mickey Rourke is an intriguingly unique actor. He was terrific in Sin City (2005) but disturbing, to me, in Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986). My opinion of him has flip-flopped over the years. Ultimately I do respect his considerable talent.
The Wrestler, as you know, is his come-back from obscurity movie. A movie of a down-and-out Wrestler – with parallels Rourke’s acting career and personal life. Randy the RAM is one-trick pony – as the Springsteen theme song to the movie goes. He’s a wrestler that knows nothing else. Years after he should have retired, his pride keeps him from moving on.
On Charlie Rose Rourke made the point that, unlike Randy the RAM, he had someone to talk to (a therapist), to equip him with the tools he need to overcome his demons and move on.
Marisa Tomei plays a warm-hearted stripper. At 44, she’s still a knockout. I hadn’t expected how graphic her depiction of a stripper would be. She’s very good in the movie, but her part in the plot didn’t ring true to me. Or perhaps I don’t understand the mindset of a stripper. Nonetheless, her role was small. This is Rourke’s picture.
Evan Rachel Wood had a small role as Rourke’s predictably estranged daughter. Nothing about her performance was memorable.
This was a difficult review to write. The movie was uniquely perfect for Rourke – Rourke played Rourke. It was an outstanding performance. But I still felt that I had to endure it. Put simply, it was depressing, gritty and very hard to watch. Box office success should elude it because it’s a downer.
The ending was a let down. I don’t want to ruin it so I won’t say why. I can say that I’m tired of this decade-plus-long Hollywood ending trend.
I can’t recommend this movie to anyone other than Rourke fans and those wanting to feel depressed. Yes, Rourke’s performance was Oscar worthy. If he wins, he’ll deserve it. So too was Tomei’s. But fine performances alone don’t necessarily make for a fine film.