BEST ACTOR WATCH: Mickey Rourke in ‘The Wrestler’

Posted by · 1:07 pm · August 11th, 2008

Mickey Rourke in The WrestlerFor some time I have been cautiously anticipating Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming film “The Wrestler.” I say cautiously because, as much as I love Aronofsky’s vision of a cinematic world slightly askew, I recognize his potential for going off the rails in blind artistic rage.

I loved “The Fountain.” I found it to be one of the two best films of 2006, a unique and vigorous demand for new barriers in the cinema. Some people hated, detested it, found it a waste of celluloid, but I saw a filmmaker dissatisfied with the limits of his medium and stretching to make a different kind of film entirely.

Then again, I hated “Requiem for a Dream,” the film largely agreed upon as a testament to his considerable talents. I found it to be an embarassing display, the sophomore slump from a director clearly going places.

And of course, in “Pi,” I think many would agree that the seeds of expertise were sewn, the potential glaringly apparent.

And now we get “The Wrestler,” which will bow at the 65th annual Venice Film Festival later this month. The film stars Mickey Rourke as a professional wrestler “making his way through the independent circuit, trying to get back in the game for one final showdown with his former rival,” according to IMDb. And for some reason, it sounds like a story with a lot of potential, to say nothing of what an actor as gifted as Mickey Rourke could do with a role such as this.

Rourke has been in the midst of a downward spiral ever since the days of “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.” He plundered the potential we all saw in films such as “Diner” and “Rumble Fish” on the way to becoming a self-parody. Even his often-praised performance in Robert Rodriguez’ “Sin City” was something of a cop-out, a reliance on the short-talking, hard boiled persona he had grown into over the course of a decade or more.

But we all still liked it, of course. Just as we (well, some of us) enjoyed his chihuahua-toting tough guy in “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” But he’s got something else in him, something great, and I have a feeling “The Wrestler” might scratch that surface.

With that in mind, /Film has posted some new photos of Rourke from the upcoming film, which co-stars Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei. I love the look they’ve assembled for Rourke’s wrestler, a sort of mish-mash of Diamond Dallas Page and Fabulous Freebird Michael P.A. Hayes (yes…I used to be a big pro wrestling fan). There might even be some Shawn Michaels thrown in for good measure.

The film hasn’t secured domestic distribution yet, but perhaps it’ll turn enough heads in Venice in a few weeks to do just that. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to what Aronofsky, and Rourke, have in store for us here.

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 8-11-2008 at 1:21 pm

    John K said...

    I’ve really been looking forward to this film too, but not due to any particular interest in Aronofsky’s work. Rather, what you said about Mickey Rourke could also go for Tomei and Wood – gifted thespians who have mostly squandered their potential, except for the occasional flash of brilliance here and there.

    On a side note, Rourke kind of looks like the Ultimate Warrior in that picture. (Also used to be a big pro wrestling fan.)

  • 2 8-11-2008 at 1:24 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Ah, the Ultimate Warrior. Good call there.

  • 3 8-11-2008 at 1:55 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    You probably catch a lot of shit for those feelings about REQUIEM, and while I very much disagree with your assessment, that’s the kind of iconoclastic boldness that makes you invaluable.

  • 4 8-11-2008 at 1:59 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Indeed I do, Burma.

  • 5 8-11-2008 at 2:42 pm

    mike said...

    Can’t wait for this film… I liked Rourke’s role in Domino, I thought that was a good, fun film when it came out.

  • 6 8-11-2008 at 3:00 pm

    Casey said...

    gotta have bigger hair for the ultimate warrior. haha. I’m kinda just excited that there are more former pro-wrestling fans in the film biz and fanbase

  • 7 8-11-2008 at 3:05 pm

    Joel said...

    I still don’t forgive Rourke for “Alex Rider”, the second worst movie I’ve ever seen.

    Loved “The Fountain” as well, though it was flawed to me. Excited about this one…uh, whenever it comes out.

  • 8 8-11-2008 at 11:22 pm

    Michael said...

    Kris, I share your feelings on both “The Fountain” (which I thought was brilliant), and “Requiem For A Dream” (which I thought was pretentious, and heavy handed).

    However, I’m just not a fan of pro-wrestling, and this upcoming film holds little to no appeal to me. A filmmaker with the skill and imagination of Aronofsky shouldn’t be tackling such a juvenile subject. I kind of felt the same way when Paul Thomas Anderson made Punch Drunk Love (not that it was a bad film, but it just seems so lightweight compared to sprawling ensemble epic masterpieces like Boogie Nights and Magnolia).

  • 9 8-12-2008 at 12:58 am

    Evan said...

    I’m a bit worried about the direction Aronofsky is taking. He seems to be going down a more “Hollywood” path with this one. I’m still excited though, I loved Requiem and The Fountain, and it’s about time Rourke got a decent role (first time I ever saw him was in “Double Team” with Van Damme and Dennis Rodman).

  • 10 8-12-2008 at 8:39 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    There’s nothing “Hollywood” about this, from what I can tell. It seems like a grim indie.