“The Wrestler” 1Hr, 51 Minutes

   Oh Mickey Roarke, how we missed you!
   Once billed as the next Pacino or De Niro in the 1980’s, thanks to great performances in films like Ruumble Fish and Pop of Grenich Village, Roarke faded into obscurity in the 90’s thanks to some questionable moves, like quitting acting to become a pro boxer.

   “Sin City” gave us a mini Roarke comeback in 2005, as “Marve”. It was a stronmg performance, but he was under heavy makeup, which made him unrecognizable, and it was an emsemble, all-star cast.

   “The Wrestler” is all Roarke. As “Randy The Ram” Robinson, a huge wrestling star in the 80’s, who’s reduced to working in a grocery store and brutalizing his body on weekends in gymnasiums, infront of small crowds in hopes of returning to the stardom he once knew.

    Originally, the film was suppose to star Nicolas Cage and have a much larger budget. Director Darren Aronofsky(Requiem for a Dream), wisely went with Roarke, who was born to play this role. The small scale of the film also adds to the seediness of the world of third-rate wrestling.

    In addition to trying to once again achieve stardom, Randy tries to romance a stripper named Cassidy, played by Marissa Tomei(another performer who has had a nice comeback in recent years). She’s a single mother , trying to raise her nine year-old son.

    Even Rachel Wood plays Randy’s daughter, Stephanie. He attempts to repair the damage of not being around when she was young. Some of the scenes between the two are not as compelling as they could be as Wood is no match for Roarke in their highly charged, emotional scenes.

    Don’t let the title fool you, “The Wrestler” is a character study more than anything else. Wrestling takes a backseat to the challenges of Randy’s life. It’s such a compelling, heartfelt story to watch unfold.

    I don’t think any film touched me more in 2008. Do yourself a favour and go see this film. Roarke’s bravura performance is worth the price of admission alone.