Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the Oscar goes to...

The Wrestler

One of the most important aspects of acting is to be raw and really put yourself out there. A master class for this example would be Mickey Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler.

Sometimes it felt like Rourke was simply enacting his own “E! True Hollywood Story,” but Rourke is playing a fictional character here, though eerily similar to his own life.

I was a huge Mickey Rourke fan back in the day. My daughter could not believe he used to be a sex symbol. I was forced to pop in my DVD of Diner to prove her wrong. She was forced to concede that Mickey was, in fact, fine.

I have so much love for Sean Penn’s portrayal of the late Harvey Milk, but I do see now what all the hoopla has been over Rourke’s performance. We can all wish for the outlandish dream of it being a tie, but to be honest, I think Mr. Rourke has this one in the bag.

As a down and out wrestler who has spent his entire life pushing people away, he realizes just how alone he truly is when he suffers a heart attack and is told he can no longer wrestle.

The fly on the wall view of pro-wrestling is truly fascinating, if not difficult to watch due to all the blood. No one is making tons of dough here and these are people are in love with the roar of the crowds and the thrill of the fight. Yet, when the match is over, they are left with little cash in their pockets and completely ravaged bodies.

One of the greatest aspects of this film is its honesty. Although “Randy (The Ram) Robinson,” wrestles on a regular basis, he still needs a day job. He could probably live slightly better than in a trailer park, but he has many expenses: hair appointments to keep his beautiful blond mane, trips to the tanning salon, and don’t forget how expensive performance enhancing drugs are. He also makes regular visits to his pseudo stripper girlfriend. He pays for a lap dance mostly to have someone to talk to.

Marisa Tomei (Cassidy), is Rourke’s object of desire and again, I appreciated the fact that she is portrayed as an older stripper and treated as such. Yes, she is full-on naked in this film and yes, she looks great, but she’s no spring chicken. Her job is becoming increasingly difficult because the men at the strip club do not want private dances with her anymore. No matter how great she looks, they are there to see the young nubile girls. She knows her days are numbered and she’s planning to retire soon.

It would be great to see Randy and Cassidy together, yet there’s a nagging feeling throughout the film that things will not be so happy and tidy in their lives. Rourke’s relationship with his grown daughter is troubled and we get a glimpse of the life he chose to reject in pursuit of fame. Evan Rachel Wood, walks the line of anger, bitterness and hesitation in letting her father re-enter her life.

This was more than just a tour-de-force performance by Rourke. This was a quiet, wonderful film. Its main themes of isolation, loneliness and failed dreams is something we can all relate to at one time or another.

I think we’re all glad Mickey Rourke is back and no one will begrudge his win tonight. His Golden Globes speech about how much he loves his dogs may be mocked by some, but anyone who has ever truly loved an animal knows what it means when they are there for you when know one else is. Tonight, I’m sure it will be an even more heartfelt Oscar acceptance since his beloved Chihuahua died a mere few days ago. As a tribute to Mickey and Loki, I chose to post a pic of them with this post instead of a still from The Wrestler. Pets come into our lives asking so little of us and Loki fulfilled his doggie purpose by sticking with Rourke through thick and thin. Good job Loki and good job Mickey Rourke. Welcome back!

1 comment:

SheilaBean said...


Hear, hear-Mickey Rourke is awesome in The Wrestler. A few years back, I had to pinch myself, looking at Mr. Rourke, and thinking, is this really the same guy from Pope of Greenwhich Village, what happened? But, watching his portrayal in The Wrestler, you realize, this guy didn't disappear, just the package has been rearranged. I love your comments, and it's about time we can share ideas with a native San Franciscan--who's generation seems to have moved away, or lost their cynacism. Kudos to the director/producer who are doing for Mickey Rourke what Quentin Tarrantino did for John Travolta, and kudos to you for sharing your native thoughts with us--I love it, I'll be checking in daily!

Sheila Bean