14 February 2009
  the wrestler

so there is this scene in the middle of the wrestler where mickey rourke and marisa tomei are in this bar and they're talking about 80s hair band music, and rourke is like, 'man the 80s were awesome-- until cobain came and ruined it all' and tomei is like 'i know-- what's wrong with wanting to have a good time?' um, yeah mr. aronofsky, what exactly is wrong with wanting to have a good time?

no doubt darren aronofsky is one of the best filmmakers working today. i love all three of his previous offerings (requiem for a dream is one of my all time faves). and no doubt he isn't exactly known for his uplifting spielberg-esque fare. but i really think that the wrestler is his most depressing offering yet. the whole thing is an effing downer from the very first scene to the very last. and i maybe could have gotten past that and still enjoyed the movie if it didn't have so many other problems with it.

in short, and i realize i am in the minute minority on this one, i really think aronofsky dropped the ball on this one. i kept asking myself as i was watching the movie- why in the world did he make this? the whole story seems somewhat beneath him, and i really think that this is by far the least of his four films.

i am not a person who has to really like the subject matter to enjoy the movie. i loved hustle & flow even though i have absolutely no interest in rap music. and i love lots of boxing movies, even though i couldn't give a care when it comes to the actual fighting. but i have to say that the wrestling in this movie really turned me off. i just can't believe that anyone could take this stuff so seriously. rather than making a movie about how important this sport (? game? pageant?) is to those who take part in it, i think it would have made more sense for aronofsky to really problematize wrestling itself. what comes across on screen is a horrible display of violence, drug use and mysogyny, and it isn't one of those things where i can simply say to-each-his-own. the film that the wrestler most reminds me of is field of dreams. in both movies you watch these loopy guys go on and on about how important something is to them all the while watching in shock and trying to hold back laughter. in short, i just think wrestling is ridiculous, and this movie certainly did nothing to change my mind about that.

but really only about two thirds of this movie were about wrestling so, in theory, i could have enjoyed the other third, right? well no, because i was too busy during that 40 minutes seething with anger at what a horrible person mickey rourke's character is. he is just plain awful. when he has his heart attack and goes to visit his daughter, i was just cheering her on as she screamed at him. what an asshole! i mean he never did anything for her his entire life and then suddenly he has a crisis and needs something and this is when he decides to drive over to her place. and THEN what he does after she finally agrees to have dinner is even worse. basically he does terrible things throughout the movie, but it is what he did to his daughter that upset me most.

and i hate to say it, because mickey rourke wasn't terrible in this (although i intensely hate him as a person) but i really don't think there was a lot of acting going on here. come on people, the wrestler IS mickey rourke. (and how high do you think he was during the entire filming?)

still, the real problem with this movie, and i can't believe i haven't seen anyone commenting on this, has to do with the stripping scenes. there is just something strange and vaguely masculinist about the entire film, and the stripping scenes are the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. i can't BELIEVE that marisa tomei agreed to do this. i don't have a problem with female nudity, but there were parts of this i just couldn't bring myself to look at. the dancing is SO raunchy and SO unappealing, and they just make tomei look SO unsexy i just felt bad for her (the actress, not the character) the entire time. i really think it wouldn't have hurt the movie if aronofsky could have cut a little bit of the stripping out. in fact, i think he really owed it to the character of the stripper to try and treat her as more of a person and less of a spread-eagle-ass.
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