- Darren Aronofsky,
- Robert D. Siegel,
- Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Ajay Naidu, Judah Friedlander, Dylan Keith Summers, Mark Margolis,
- A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle.
As good as Rourke is, and as willingly as he throws himself on the figurative hand grenade, his performance constantly begs the question of whether the story would be worth telling without him. Marisa Tomei, as Cassidy the pole dancer, delivers a courageous performance, one nearly as ego-battering as Rourke's.
Like its hero, the movie has a blunt, exuberant honesty, pulling off even its false moves with conviction and flair.
What Rourke offers us, in short, is not just a comeback performance but something much rarer: a rounded, raddled portrait of a good man. Suddenly, there it is again--the charm, the anxious modesty, the never-distant hint of wrath, the teen-age smiles, and all the other virtues of a winner.
The story has its clichéd and sentimental moments. It's no "Raging Bull," more like "Rocky" shot with a handheld camera. But Rourke's wounded tough guy is undeniably captivating.
An emotional smackdown. Rourke's never been better, and the change of pace and texture suits Aronofsky perfectly. "The Raging Bull" of wrestling movies? Oh, go on then.
The movie isn't as world-shattering as those bouts: It's a regretful-old-warrior weeper.
Both Rourke and Tomei bring a tender, lived-in honesty to their sad roles.
Present in every scene, if not each shot, Rourke gives a tremendously physical performance that The Wrestler essentially exists to document.
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