Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, January 09, 2009

Will Mickey Rourke be able to pin an Oscar down?

The Oscar race this year looks to be quite a dogfight in several categories,the fiercest one to be Best Actor. While Sean Penn's performance in Milk makes him the odds on favorite,the work that Mickey Rourke does as the lead in The Wrestler gives him a real shot at the gold. In other words,he's a true contender.

Having seen both movies,I can honestly say that it's a bit of a tough call but the scales do tip over more towards Rourke for the win. That slight edge has nothing to do with Hollywood politics or flavor of the month status;it's that raw authentic nerve of the character that Rourke brings his full life experience to. That ability to really be able to slip into another's skin and show just how real he is,is a rare gift given to any performer.

Rourke plays a former wrestling superstar from the glory days of the 1980s,Randy"the Ram" Johnson. Randy(whose real name is Robin,which he hates)is still on the circuit,only these days,he's on the lowest rungs of the ladder.

In between wrestling bouts and part time jobs where he gets little respect,Randy is also hooked on a number of pills and steroid solutions that he occasionally deals to offset some of his bills. That extra bit of cash doesn't prevent him from being locked out of his trailer for non payment of rent or to afford to pay for a hospital stay after collapsing from a physically brutal match-up.

His health problems and a chance to make a comeback via a 20th anniversary rematch bout puts Randy in a somewhat more reflective mode,urging him to not only pursue a real relationship with his favorite lap dancer(Marisa Tomei,who should be given a nomination herself)but to try and make a connection with his estranged daughter,Stephanie(Evan Rachel Wood).

Stephanie has been emotionally burned so many times in the past by her father that she is vehemently opposed to giving him even the smallest way in. However,Randy does manage to tell her how he feels and to acknowledge his failings and his love for her:

The true beauty of this film,and Rourke's performance,is the realistic tone that is taken with such tried and true material. We've seen this type of story before,the broken down athlete striving for redemption who stumbles and falls on his way to recapturing his glory.

However,the presentation of the plot and characters is not done in either a Hollywood or a Indie movie fashion;you get more of the feeling of a documentary or a hidden camera show,where the warts and all vision of the world is showcased,not as a visual stunt but rather to give the characters' dilemmas the respect they deserve.

Director Darren Aronosky puts the films thru it's paces and while he does have some nice stylish shots,it's to benefit the story not distract from it. Mickey Rourke seems to to effortlessly give Randy such a strong stamp of hard earned reality that some might be tempted to call his work here typecasting. They would be very wrong to do so,indeed. If Rourke does get the nomination and wins the Oscar for Best Actor this time around, it will be a victory that was honestly paid for in blood,sweat and tears:

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

Sounds like a gritty Cinderella Man. Not positive about an Oscar but Rourke may have a shot.