"The Wrestler" - Aronofsky/ Rourke [Open Spoilers]

So, tonight I’m going to the Chicago Film Festival’s screening of Darren Aronofsky’s new film, The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. All of the early buzz on this is incredible, and the lead, Mickey Rourke, is getting a lot of early Oscar buzz.

The coolest part of the showing tonight is that Aronofsky will be in attendance and will do a Q&A after the screening. I’m a huge fan of his and I’m hoping to get a chance to talk to him afterwards.

Anyway, anyone else see this yet? I’ll post an update about what I thought of the film after tonight.

Edited to add: Link to Rotten Tomatoes page where it is currently 100% fresh. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_wrestler/

The film won the Golden Lion (top prize) at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, and by most accounts, it was only a festival bylaw that prevented Rourke from taking the acting prize as well. I definitely look forward to it.

Though if you were to ask who the first castmember of Diner to earn an Oscar nomination would be, how many would’ve guessed Mickey?

Yeah, I’ve heard nothing but great things about this. I can’t wait to read your reaction.

Saw this last night at the screening and stayed for the Q&A w/ Aronofsky afterwards. I have to say, everything I’d heard about this film was true. It was really terrific.

The movie is different for an Aronofsky film. He talked about how he usually does a lot of setting up of shots to get the lighting and the look just right, but for this film he used a documentary film crew to shoot. This definitely gives the movie a gritty, realistic look.

Mickey Rourke is incredible as Randy “The Ram” Robinson - a pro wrestler who filled Madison Square Garden in the mid-eighties but now, twenty years later, is broke and broken and still wresting in school gymnasiums and American Legion halls in an independent wrestling league in New Jersey.

He’s in almost every scene and the movie wouldn’t work without him. The whole movie was basically written w/ him in mind and as part of the creative force behind the writing and storyline, and I feel there are a lot of allusions to Rourke’s own career. Aronofsky had some interesting things to say about Rourke and how he’s notorious for being difficult to work with. It sounded like he wasn’t any different for this film. He’d learn his lines but not much was really blocked so they gave him a lot of space to just be the character.

Marisa Tomei plays a stripper who is also The Ram’s closest friend, even though she still keeps distance due to him being a customer. She was very good in the part and I don’t think she’s ever been hotter in a movie. She’s naked a good part of the time she’s on screen so maybe that has something to do with it.

Evan Rachel Wood is good as The Ram’s estranged daughter. I’ve liked her as an actress ever since I saw Thirteen and she does well here.

Aronofsky talked about how he’d had the idea for this film since he was in film school and how we have lots of movies about boxers but none about wrestlers. He did some great work behind the lens on this, including a decision to follow characters with the camera a lot from behind so that we’re looking at the back of their head while they walk. It works.

So, if you get a chance I definitely recommend this one. Definitely expect to see Rourke nominated for Best Actor for this. I expect he’ll win as well. Also, Bruce Springsteen did an original song for this that plays over the credits and I expect to see it nominated as well.

I’m definitely looking forward to this. I love Aronofsky–Pi was the first DVD I ever bought, and I was blown away by Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain.

Saw it at the Toronto Film Fest in September, it’s really fantastic.

It was interesting to see a movie about a pro wrestler. I’ve never much cared for pro wrestling but I know far too much about it b/c my best friend loves the stuff and I have to say, Darren pretty much nails it.

I liked the movie as a whole and agree with NinjaGirl entirely, but I feel the ending deserves mentioning. It’s truly fantastic and it’s right up there with the best of them.

Details escape me as it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it should suffice to say that I’m DEFINITELY watching it again in theatres.

Gah, lucky bastard! I was at the theater last night too, but the two I wanted to see, The Wrestler and Happy-Go-Lucky, were sold out. I ended up seeing What Just Happened (I liked it) and (cringe) Max Payne.

The movie I want to see most is also sold out, Sunday’s screening of Synecdoche, New York. Kaufman’s supposed to be there for a Q&A too. Sigh.

Hm… Should I mention that I have tickets for **Synecdoche **as well? Last night we got to meet Aronofsky after the Q&A and he was really nice…signed a couple of DVD’s for us. I plan on trying to get my Adaptation DVD signed by Kaufman tomorrow night. :slight_smile:

I’m so envious. I’m almost tempted to go to the theater and hang around just so I can meet Kaufman. I might impress him because I actually know how to pronouce Synecdoche! smile

Have fun!

Didn’t the Academy change the rules a few years back? I think a song must be part of the actual film to be nominated- songs over the end credits no longer qualify.

Or am I mis-remembering?

Bumping the thread because I just saw this today.

I think I might be a slight wet blanket here. While I thought Mickey Rourke was superb, and that Aranofsky’s direction was faultless, I thougt there could have been a little more story to it, and – I admit it – I didn’t really care for the ending. I found it unsatisfying, not because I demand a happy ending, but because I don’t think we really got a sufficient explanation as to why Randy would make that choice.

While I loved the scenes in the locker room and basically all the backstage stuff involving the wrestlers. The wrestlers talking shop, ostensible opponents casually mapping out their fights and deciding on what kinds of damage to do to each other, the comraderie and mutual support – all that stuff was great. What I don’t think we saw, though, was what made Randy love the ring itself, why he loved wrestling itself. We can see why he loves the other guys, and why, at one time, he loved the fame and the fans, but I’m not sure we see why he loved actually getting into the ring.

I would have also liked to see some more backstory on his career – how he got started in wrestling, what it was like when he was on top-- stuff like that. What we see is where he is now, as basically a has been, but who he used to be and how he got to thispoint is never explored.

I think that the decision he makes at the end might be more understandable if we had more insight into what he likes about the ring. The end of the result of the movie was that I thought it was an extraordinarily well-drawn character portrait, and a beautifully realized, gritty milieu, but I think it needed just a little something more in the story – a tiny bit of redemption and glory for Randy.

I will say that naked Marisa Tomei elevates any movie.

While Rourke deserves all the accolades he’s getting and is probably the odds on favorite not just to get nominated for the Oscar, but to win it, I think I’ve seen at least three or four better movies this year. I think Slumdog and Milk were both better. I even think Doubt was better. I see it as a Best Actor movie, but not as a Best Picture movie.

Rourke really is very, very good, though. He really vanishes as Mickey Rourke and you totally just see him as this Randy the Ram guy.

Wow, it’s still at 98%!

I agree with all the good things said about the movie, but I can understand some of Dio’s complaints. Maybe that’s why I too saw it as a Best Actor movie, and maybe even Best Director film (a nomination at least) but not a Best Picture movie. I’ll be happy for it no matter what it’s nominated for or who wins.

Who he used to be is very well explored during the opening credits, which shows scrapbook newspaper clippings and flyers and tickets and fan paraphernalia. I think the time passing of how he got to this point is implied, and works because it could apply to anyone who used to be famous but is now down on their luck. Former rock stars who now play bars, old race car drivers who attended the grand opening of car dealerships, the cast of Galaxy Quest.

God love her, she’s still got a body to die for! I like though how they didn’t shy away from her age, when those young college kids were giving her grief, saying things like “you’re old enough to be my mom.” She’s close to the end of her stripping days, and she knows it. Her character is almost as sad as Randy’s, but she’s a fighter too.

I would have rented it just to see Marisa Tomei, she is currently one of my crushes.

But I have only seen good things about it and so I will be renting it for other reasons as well.

I thought it just had to be written specifically for the film. Anyone got the inside track on that?

[spoiler]He does it because wrestling is all he has. We see him going to great lengths to keep his brutal career alive. At first you don’t really know why, but by the end of the film it’s pretty clear that Randy does it because he isn’t capable of anything else. You don’t need to know why he likes wrestling, it is enough to know he can’t do anything else.

In the beginning you don’t think there is anything wrong with the guy. He seems perfectly nice and hard working. As the film goes on you realize that he can’t maintain a job or a relationship with his daughter. When Tomei comes after him in the end, Randy realizes that this will probably not work like everything else. He figures that wrestling is the only thing he is made for and decides that he’ll keep wrestling until his end.

I thought that ending was more truthful that him and Tomei running off into the sunset. [/spoiler]

Using wresting to tell this story works particularly well. It is the one sport where even the amateur circuit is extremely demanding. The professional circuit demands so much from its performers that most wrestlers give up everything for the sport. Spending long hours on the road. Long hours in the gym to keep themselves in top physical shape. When they finally get too old to compete, they realize they have nothing else.

Isn’t the top prize in Berlin the Golden Bear?
I think the Gold Lion is the Venice Film Festival.

Just saw this last night. I thought it was worlds better than The Fountain, and probably everything you heard about Mickey Rourke’s performance is true. Absolutely amazing.

I also agree with Lakai’s spoiler.

The Wrestler in fact won the Golden Lion at Venice. I don’t know anything about the Golden Bear, but Wikipedia says the winner this year was Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad).

Saw this last night and liked it quite a bit. Agree that it’s not a great film, but it truly is a great performance on Mickey Rourke’s part.

I saw this Saturday and I really enjoyed the film. Rourke was amazing, I never considered him that good of an actor but he blew me away. Marisa was excellent and none of the wrestlers pulled me out of the movie. They did a very good job casting.

My only downside were some little nitpicks.

  1. Maybe I missed it, but I was surprised that no mention of Stephanie’s mom or where she was.

  2. I felt the movie was clearly moving to his death at the end in the ring from early on and I think maybe it could have been more subtle.

  3. Sorry for being a pig here, but damn I wish Marisa would have down some nudity years ago when she was absolutely smoking and beautiful. She has always been one of my favorites and she still looks great but it just makes be wished *My Cousin Vinny *or *Untamed Heart *had some extended nude scenes with her in it. Again my apologies.

BTW: I had no idea that bizarre crap of extreme wrestling existed. I think it is a sick and disgusting idea and it is disturbing that people love it.

I don’t think you missed anything. I actually thought that the fact that there was no mention of Mom was a positive thing, in terms of the naturalism of the rest of the movie.

Either she died, or one of them left the other (and I’m guessing it was probably Randy doing the leaving). Either way, both of the characters clearly know what happened, and neither one is going to bring it up, especially given the tenuous footing their relationship was on at that point. Any kind of explanation would be for exposition purposes only, and be for the audience, and wouldn’t ring true with the rest of the dialogue.