International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Film
Darren Aronofskys Mission in Mainstream Transition
latest film, The Wrestler, completes his evolution from art-house
moviemaker to mainstream money-maker, with RoboCop, his next
feature, set to be the icing on the 2010 cake. The cult days of
Pi, (Aronofskys debut black and white film) which bore
numerous resemblances to the early work of David Lynch, is but a
distant memory in the shadow of his latest venture.
However, box office
success has not cost the film its quality, as the movie is the
total sum of some sensitive subject matter and impressive acting, almost
earning Mickey Rourke an Academy Award for best actor.
For those who have only seen the trailers on TV, it is but another sports
movie, but for those who have bought the ticket, youll know it
is so much more. So then, why make such a misleading trailer? Money,
sure enough, as you can bet every other wrestling fan in America has
been to see the movie. Humorously, Rourke is even set to appear ringside
at Wrestle Mania this year. However, dont be put off by the high-flying
antics in the teaser, as the reality is a film spiced with Aronofskys
interesting interjections on the human condition, as he takes a look
at the decaying father figure whose greatest passion, wrestling, is
also his nemesis.
When Randy "Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) suffers a serious
heart attack, he is told to give up either wrestling or his livelihood.
Wrestling is not only his hobby however, but also a source of income,
and so among other pursuits, the "Ram" is forced to take shifts
at the deli counter in a supermarket, where he would usually work out
back in deliveries. Struggling to cope with life away from the ring,
the gregarious yet slightly bullish Randy, eventually finds his new
line of employment isnt too bad after all. Randy is then buoyed
to the extent that decides on paying his daughter a visit, with whom
he has had very scarce contact over the past decade.
The inevitable ups and downs which occur between a young woman and her
negligent father are acted out in some believably heart-felt exchanges,
yet notwithstanding Randys best intentions, he is unable to free
himself sufficiently from his stage persona, similarly to Gerard Depardieus
character in The Singer (2006). Randy, despite his inclination to reform,
is better suited to pre-scripted occasions such as his wrestling bouts,
coping much better when the spotlight is solely on himself, and the
chances of having to deal with multiple social demands are minimal.
His character bears many similarities to a long list of washed up sportsmen,
footballers in particular, who unfortunately find themselves crippled
without the adrenaline rush they received in their playing days.
Mickey Rourkes depiction of his character is sublime, and for
many it was a genuine surprise that he did not walk away with the Oscar.
He dressed to impress on the night, in a dapper suit with a gold charm
around his neck, in which there was a picture of his deceased pet Chihuahua,
Loki. In fact, the extent of his love for the dog caused him to walk
off of the set of Luck of the Draw in 2000, when Rourke learned
there was no place in the film for the canine companion. Indeed it has
been speculated that Rourkes most recent controversies away from
the cameras may have cost him the Academys recognition. However,
Penn, who is no saint himself, received the award graciously. He produced
a rambling acceptance speech on the subjects of love and equal rights,
which backed up claims that his receipt of the award was correct only
in the political sense; as arguably the least prestigious film in the
list of nominees, scooped one of the most decorated awards in the film
Aronofsky and Rourke alike seem to have got themselves back on the rails
with the success of The Wrestler; the movie has provided a huge
stepping stone towards the revival of their respective careers. Rourke
now has a string of productions to look forward to, including Sin
City 2 and Iron Man 2. Likewise, Aronofsky seems to finally
be over his audacious flop, The Fountain. He can now go on to
pursue his career with his fans best wishes, having captured the
imagination of so many, with his first truly commercially successful
© Dean Betts March 2009
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