The Wrestler

Release Date: December 17, 2008
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Monday, December 8, 2008
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On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
4/52 Sean Collier Perfect performances and masterful direction make it one of the year's best.
5/21 Jason Lee Incredible and emotionally powerful, but I'm not sure I want to see again
5/31 John Seal Superb Mickey Rourke performance in an old fashioned '70s character study
7/31 Les Winan Mickey Rourke is fantastic as advertised.
13/43 Kim Hollis A good sports movie that really seems to understand the world of professional wrestling. Rourke is indeed terrific, but I've been touting his talent for the past few years anyway.
20/196 Max Braden Rourke is excellent, Tomei is good but I wouldn't have nominated her. The ending is perfect. This would be a good double header with Rocky Balboa.

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Once considered something of a heartthrob in the 1980s, Mickey Rourke's roles over the years fell into the category of thugs and brawlers. A short career in boxing turned his face into one only Keith Richards' mother could love, and the idea of Rourke as a lead actor was far from Hollywood's mind. But he grabbed critical attention in 2005's Sin City, and is now receiving award attention in a role that parallels his own career.

The Wrestler stars Rourke as aging professional wrestler Randy 'The Ram' Robinson. Once a popular headliner, he now scrounges the independent wrestling circuit in New Jersey in front of small crowds for small payoffs. Years of physical punishment and steroids have taken their toll, and Robinson suffers a heart attack that takes him away from his love of the action. He tries to reconnect with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and begins a relationship with a stripper (Marisa Tomei), but his love of the ring remains strong, and he tries to get back in for one last shot at stardom.

Director Darren Aronofsky has been praised for his films - Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Fountain - even as they could be described as dark and strange. The Wrestler is far more conventional and accessible, putting a single main character at the forefront of a story with humor and familiar emotion. Sylvester Stallone's similarly themed comeback story Rocky Balboa didn't win awards but received positive reviews from critics and audiences, and went on to earn $70 million domestically in wide release two years ago.

The Wrestler won Venice Film Festival's top prize, the Golden Lion, and was featured at the Toronto Film Festival. Fox Searchlight bought distribution rights for $4 million, and Bruce Springsteen has recorded a theme song for its theatrical release. The movie has become one of 2008's highly anticipated holiday releases, and is one to track for award nominations. Mickey Rourke certainly will be walking tall in Hollywood once again. (Max Braden/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Wrestler
Main Cast Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Director Darren Aronofsky
Screenwriter Robert Siegel
Distributor Fox Searchlight
Official Site
Rating R
Running Time 109 minutes
Screen Count 4
Awards Awards page for The Wrestler
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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