|Rourke, on the right, with his trainer Wild Samoan Afa.
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Written by: Robert D. Siegel
Directed by: Darren Aronosfky
According to chat rooms and message boards, fans of the "artsy" filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, Pi) seem to think that crafting a film about an over-the-hill wrestler is beneath his talents. Some wrestling fans, on the other hand, have hopes that their favourite past-time will be given a respectful on-screen treatment for a change.
The Wrestler first caught some mainstream attention due to the star at the time, Nicolas Cage, showing up in the crowd at a Ring of Honor event as part of his research. Shortly thereafter, though, Cage dropped out of the picture and was replaced by the suddenly resurgent Mickey Rourke.
While Rourke obviously lacks the mainstream appeal that Cage possesses, Rourke has more experience in a ring. At one point in his career, he disappeared from Hollywood to take up boxing, though he admitted it was a personal challenge and was never intended to be a second career or lead to any serious title hunts.
The film's cast is bolstered by the usual array of wrestling talent. In this case, Ron Killings, Giovanni Roselli, and Ernest Miller headline the workers making an appearance. Interestingly, Aronofsky seems poised to immediately follow The Wrestler with The Fighter, a film that will look at the career of a boxer from the beginning, rather than of just the tail-end. Clearly, this is not idle curiosity on Aronofsky's part causing him to get in the ring, as working two thematically similar films back-to-back is a large commitment.
Keep checking for much more information on what is certainly the most interesting wrestling-related film to come along in a while.
June 17, 2009: The Wrestler still resonates with Ring of Honor
Mar. 23, 2009: The Wrestler 'really got to me': Piper
Feb. 23, 2009: Analysis: Rourke's predictable loss at the Oscars
Feb. 18, 2009: Bit part becomes big deal for McGuinness
Jan. 29, 2009: Mickey Rourke out of Wrestlemania: Agent
Jan. 12, 2009: Analysis: A Golden Globe for all wrestlers
Review: The Wrestler a grand slam
December 23, 2008: Mickey Rourke makes a comeback
November 8, 2008: ROH, movies and baby in focus for Necro Butcher
September 17, 2008: Aronofsky and Rourke passionate about The Wrestler -- and wrestling
Review: Aronofsky's The Wrestler an instant classic
Photo Gallery from The Wrestler screening at Toronto International Film Festival
SLAM! Wrestling stories about The Wrestler
Official website for The Wrestler
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher, and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org -- SLAM! Wrestling.