** SPOILERS **
So, I sort of had a thing for 9 1/2 Weeks Mickey Rourke. It is safe to say that ever since the promos for The Wrestler, his "resurrection" or come-back movie, started appearing on my TV, I have been very much over whatever thing I had for young Mickey. Eeesh. Maybe I actually had a thing for John, his character in 9 1/2 Weeks, and not for Mickey at all, I don't know. I finally got around to watching The Wrestler last night, though, and after seeing it, I'm totally looking forward to some of the other eight or nine movies he has coming out in the next year or two. It's the story of a washed-up professional wrestler who just can't let go, and can't manage to fit in anywhere outside of the ring. He's got a failed relationship with his daughter (his fault), a crappy job at a grocery store, a trailer that he can't manage to pay his rent on, and is a little too regular at the local strip club, with a crush on an over-age stripper who he's basically paying to be his friend to show for it. He drops after a particularly ugly match (seriously, there was a staple gun involved), he has heart surgery, he finds some happiness working the deli counter, he retires from wrestling and starts to mend things with his daughter, he gets recognized at the deli counter and can't handle it, he comes out of retirement for one last fight (against MDs orders, of course).
The Mickey Rourke in this film is a hot mess. But you know what? He was PERFECT for this role, and he did a fabulous job in this movie. The dude is a pretty good actor. I get all of his nominations for this role, I really do, and I'm tempted to say that maybe he should've won on a few more of them. I even get all of the film's nominations - it wasn't bad. It was maybe a little slow at times, but never boring, IMO. It wasn't awesome by my discerning "movies I love to watch over and over again" standards, but it was really well put together, and pretty thought-provoking in its own way, and I totally see the Oscar/SAG/Golden Globe-worthiness of it as a film. What I absolutely do not get are Marisa Tomei's multiple nominations for her role as the over-age stripper. I think I could've played the role just as well as she did, except she's got way more of a stripper body than I ever will. But really, you don't get Oscar nods for prancing around naked for half a movie, so I guess I'm just missing it. I thought Evan Rachel Wood did a better job as the daughter than Tomei did as the pseudo-wannabe-girlfriend. I also think it might be one where I will like it more and more the more times I watch it. I've only seen it once so far, but it just gives me that feeling. Plus, the more I've been thinking about it, the more I think I like it. Movies like that are always nominated for lots of awards.
The ending was half cop-out, half perfect. When it ended, I though, "no way, it doesn't really end like that, does it?" But as with most films that spur that thought in me - I honestly can't think of what ending would've been better. So while I'm tempted to call it a cop-out without closure, I also fear that if the story had gone on for even another minute after where it ended, it would've sucked. The point wasn't meant to be whether The Ram lived or died that night in the ring, it was that he couldn't (or wouldn't) live outside the ring, ever again. There's a shot right before he climbs up on the ropes where he glances up at the curtain where Tomei's character had been watching the fight, and you can almost hear the thought in his head: "if she's there, I'll just pin this dude, collect my dinero and head back into retirement with her. If she's not there, I'm gonna Ram-Jam this guy and, if I survive that, every other opponent I ever face in the future, 'cause I ain't got shit outside of this ring."
One thing I will say about this movie is that I haven't stopped thinking about it since it ended, and in that way I totally see the Oscar-worthiness, and for that reason alone, I recommend it. If you're into film, I recommend it. If you just like watching movies, I don't. If you don't get the differentiation, this one probably isn't for you.