Darren Aronofsky confounded many people with his incomprehensible-yet-beautiful film The Fountain, including myself. But with The Wrestler, he, like Rourke, is back on top. He is truly one of the greatest filmmakers we have and, I would wager, THE most visceral. Even if you don’t understand The Fountain, you feel it. Then there’s the wrenching Requiem for a Dream, an emotional anvil of a film, and one of the greatest masterpieces in cinematic history. God, I love this man. He brings such a visual vibrancy to this story. His style is bold and distinct, he constantly takes risks, and he never compromises his startling and unique vision. He uses the camera as a character to create a sense of claustrophobic isolation. There’s this authentic, documentary-style aura about the film that transcends aesthetics. You are an active part of this world. The aesthetics, though, are astounding: the gritty and gripping cinematography by Maryse Alberti, the powerfully naturalistic and humanistic writing by Robert Siegel, the intricate and essential sound design (Aronofsky utilizes sound as well as Paul Thomas Anderson), and the soul-piercing melancholia of Clint Mansell’s score…when you factor in the acting…it all adds up to perfection.
Mickey Rourke. What can I say that could possibly be adequate? He’s officially back, and he IS this film. He is its throbbing, beating, bleeding heart. I could see his soul in that weary face. Like Tomei, he is brave and totally fearless. He is utterly unflinching in his commitment to this role. He’s so many different superlatives that there’s no point in me just rattling them off. They’re not good enough, even if they’re all true. The only word that I hope can come close to describing his work is “heroic.” It’s rare to care this much about a character…or an actor. Rourke IS “The Ram.” He’s so astonishingly real that I often felt physically uncomfortable, like I had to turn away from the excruciating loneliness and humiliation that he personifies so relentlessly. Mickey Rourke is primal; he almost looks like an animal. He's got this sexual aura, this rawness, that actually unnerved me at times. He's almost off-putting in the way he looks, but then he's also just a big, adorable teddy bear that I wanted to rock in my arms. I think I kind of fell in love with Mickey Rourke while watching The Wrestler. He made me weep with the beauty and genuineness of his performance. When Rourke enters the arena at the end for the big fight, I got chills all over that were so intense, it felt like my whole body was on fire. I can pay no higher compliment than that.