Mr. Movie

Rourke makes brilliant comeback as 'Wrestler'

There isn’t much to director Darren Aronofsky’s (Requiem for a Dream) film.

The Wrestler is a straight-ahead character study that skillfully mixes hand-held camera work with exceptional editing and outstanding stunt work.

Mickey Rourke plays rapidly slipping past middle age wrestler, Randy “The Ram” Robinson. In the 1980s, Robinson was a champion, rich, successful and adored by fans. Arononfsky’s story lets you imagine for yourself how Robinson squandered it all.

In the present, the only demand for Robinson is small events at school gymnasiums and community centers and at paraphernalia shows for collectors with others who used-to-be. Then disaster strikes.

To say Rourke is perfect for this part is the biggest understatement on the planet Earth. Remove him from the cast and The Wrestler doesn’t come close to working or even being interesting. A life spent abusing drugs, alcohol and God knows what else has turned Rourke’s one-time chiseled Hollywood hunk face to flab. His body, however, is still buff enough to fit the character of an aging wrestler desperate to hang on to fame and glory.

And this is where the metaphors start piling up. The real-life gutter-to-glory actor is brilliant as the glory-to-gutter wrestler. It’s almost as if the former acting has-been was in training all his life for the Golden Globe he got last month and a legit shot at the real world’s championship -- a best-acting Oscar.

Rourke is that good. So is co-star Marisa Tomei who grabbed a deserved supporting actress as an aging stripper just as reluctant to give up her gig as Randy “The Ram” Robinson is to quit his. You also have to note the non-nominated, power-packed performance of Evan Rachel Wood as the Ram’s daughter, reluctant to give her loser dad another shot at her heart and buy into his bid for redemption.

More metaphors. Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language, nudity. It opens Friday, Feb. 6 at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.