I’m Rooting for Mickey Rourke on Sunday Night’s Golden Globes

Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"Yes, I realize I haven’t seen all the performances of the actors nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category at the Golden Globes, and I’ll admit that you really should before you make a judgment.  But, you know, I’m just going to go with my heart on this one.  The nominees are Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road, Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon, Sean Penn for Milk, Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler.   I’ve seen the last three, and maybe I can get to the other two by Sunday, but honestly, I don’t think I’m going to change my mind.  Somestimes the best things are so simple, sublime and heartbreaking that you need not search any more.  You have found it.

Director Darren Aronofsky’s drama about an aging, down-on-his-luck professional wrestler who is The Poster for "The Wrestler"pressured into making an ill-advised comeback, The Wrestler probably doesn’t belong as a Best Picture-level nominee (and it isn’t nominated for the GG in that category), but it does offer an exceptionally talented and beautiful performance by Mickey Rourke at its heart.  If the notion of a movie about a pro wrestler doesn’t hit your sweet spot, don’t let the millieu scare you away.  I’ve had an interest in wrestling for a long time, but even without that extra layer of fascination, The Wrestler is plenty enough involving and actually both anti-cliché and cliché-filled in its treatment of the kind Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"of people who inhabit that unusual line of work.  

I’ve read it compared to Rocky – for the underdog sports angle — and Marty — for the good-natured and touching central character –  but I wouldn’t say it’s any Rocky, and neither will you, if you see it.  Maybe the Marty analogy is more sound, as Rourke, with his hulking geniality,  takes a beating, both literally and figuratively, from the world around him.   Maybe it also helps to have a few years on you to really appreciate The Wrestler.  Rourke is a well-traveled 52 years old, and really looks it.  No doubt his character, Randy “The Ram” Mickey Rourke as Randy "The Ram" RobinsonRobinson, at say, thirty, wouldn’t have imagined the kind of life he would be living twenty years later, had he even thought to project himself into his own future.  Immortality and optimism usually take precedence at that age, but The Wrestler isn’t concerned with that.  It dares to unsparingly, sometimes charmingly, often poignantly, frequently savagely, show us what happens when the dreams of thirty turn into the bleak reality of fifty. 

Not that any of us, except a very few real-life professional wrestlers, know what that life might really be like.  Is all the glamour and excitement of a life in the ring destined to end up in disappointment and dinginess?  Aronofsky has gotten some complimentary feedback from some of the actual survivors of the era in which “The Ram” was supposed to have ridden the heights, as real Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper, Mickey Rourke, and Brutus Beefcakeex-wrestlers, such as seen in the photo with Mickey Rourke, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Brutus Beefcake have turned up at screenings and given their support.  (I can’t tell you how many times I went to the L.A. Sports Arena to see those three grapplers give their all to the screaming arena of fans!)  Piper, one of the best examples of a wrestler who didn’t hit the skids as the years went by, evidently stood up at the L.A. BAFTA screen of the movie and had many complimentary things to say about the movie, and experienced an intense emotional reaction to it.   One would imagine that it would be impossible for anyone in that business, especially, to not identify in some way with aspects of Randy’s experience.  (Aficionados find a lot of similarities between the Marisa Tomei and Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"Robinson character and real-life wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts, as detailed in the sobering and fascinating wrestling doc, 1999′s Beyond the Mat.)

Can I also say how unusual and intriguing the relationship was between Randy and his stripper friend — not girlfriend — Cassidy, played by Marisa Tomei?  There is a genuine friendship between these Evan Rachel Wood and Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler"two beleagured survivors, but Randy is also a meal-ticket for her, paying her for lapdances which she desperately needs to book in order to raise her son.  They flirt, he compliments her, he obviously is attracted to her, and for more than just her physical self, but they both are caught up in a sense of performance that keeps them from letting themselves go honestly for each other.  Could she give up her paycheck for affection?  Probably not, not in any practical way.  Unfortunate but realistic.  The Wrestler also has a devasting father-daughter relationship which you can probably see coming and figure out what will ultimately transpire, but you might be wrong.  (Evan Rachel Wood plays Randy’s daughter.)

Best of all, next to Rourke’s affecting performance, are the completely exhausting, authentic, touching, and unvarnished details of life in the hard lane, as Randy manages to get locked out of his modest trailer home, people drive old pick-ups and cars, shop in second-hand shops and count a few cold beers as a lucky treat.  The sense of place in The Wrestler is outstanding.   Let’s also give a nod to the frequent touches of humor.  Rourke’s charm is genuine and palpable, as is his essential kindess in the role.

So I’m going to be crossing my fingers that Mickey Rourke gets called up to the stage at the Golden Globes.  He deserves it.  I think you’d agree if you see The Wrestler.  Normally I don’t care at all about award shows, but when you find a performance like this one, you want it to win.  A happy ending would be nice, at least on Sunday night.

Mickey Rourke Flies as "The Wrestler"

0 Response I’m Rooting for Mickey Rourke on Sunday Night’s Golden Globes
Posted By Medusa : January 11, 2009 10:47 am

Update — Just watched “Revolutionary Road” and DiCaprio is great, but I’m still going with Rourke! (Haven’t had time to catch Frost/Nixon yet — I’ll try!)

Posted By Medusa : January 11, 2009 10:47 am

Update — Just watched “Revolutionary Road” and DiCaprio is great, but I’m still going with Rourke! (Haven’t had time to catch Frost/Nixon yet — I’ll try!)

Posted By Medusa : January 11, 2009 6:12 pm

Update #2 — just finished “Frost/Nixon” — boy, Langella is really great, but I still will go for Mickey Rourke. What a terrific quintet of performances.

Posted By Medusa : January 11, 2009 6:12 pm

Update #2 — just finished “Frost/Nixon” — boy, Langella is really great, but I still will go for Mickey Rourke. What a terrific quintet of performances.

Posted By Joe aka Mongo : January 12, 2009 9:52 am

Medusa, looks like you got your wish since Mickey Rourke walked away with a well deserved Golden Globe award last night.
P.S. I was also rooting for him.

Posted By Joe aka Mongo : January 12, 2009 9:52 am

Medusa, looks like you got your wish since Mickey Rourke walked away with a well deserved Golden Globe award last night.
P.S. I was also rooting for him.

Posted By moirafinnie : January 12, 2009 11:58 am

The last time I saw Mickey Rourke was in his brilliantly lost performance in Barfly (1987) as Charles Bukowski’s creative man who found his artistic identity and solace in a descent into alcoholism and futility. He broke my heart with his repellent yet appealing hopelessness. Since his own life seems to have mirrored a similar descent I haven’t been able to watch his movies since then. Now, perhaps, with this role and a rebirth of his talent over his problems, I think that your recommendation of this movie makes me think that I might be able to bear to see him on film again. Thanks for making me re-think Mickey Rourke again.

Posted By moirafinnie : January 12, 2009 11:58 am

The last time I saw Mickey Rourke was in his brilliantly lost performance in Barfly (1987) as Charles Bukowski’s creative man who found his artistic identity and solace in a descent into alcoholism and futility. He broke my heart with his repellent yet appealing hopelessness. Since his own life seems to have mirrored a similar descent I haven’t been able to watch his movies since then. Now, perhaps, with this role and a rebirth of his talent over his problems, I think that your recommendation of this movie makes me think that I might be able to bear to see him on film again. Thanks for making me re-think Mickey Rourke again.

Posted By suzidoll : January 12, 2009 9:57 pm

Like you, I was routing for Mickey Rourke all the way. Even when he was in the worst movies imaginable, I still watched them, though it was heart-breaking to see a talented, unique actor self-destruct professionally and personally. But, I remember the first time I saw Rourke, which was in BODY HEAT. I saw the film on opening weekend of its initial run, so I didn’t know anything about any of the actors. His first appearance was a close up in which he mouths the words to Bob Seger’s “Feel Like a Number,” and his tightly wound, urban, working-class character was so different from the languid nouveaux riche and yuppie professionals in the rest of the movie. He was like a breath of fresh air.

Posted By suzidoll : January 12, 2009 9:57 pm

Like you, I was routing for Mickey Rourke all the way. Even when he was in the worst movies imaginable, I still watched them, though it was heart-breaking to see a talented, unique actor self-destruct professionally and personally. But, I remember the first time I saw Rourke, which was in BODY HEAT. I saw the film on opening weekend of its initial run, so I didn’t know anything about any of the actors. His first appearance was a close up in which he mouths the words to Bob Seger’s “Feel Like a Number,” and his tightly wound, urban, working-class character was so different from the languid nouveaux riche and yuppie professionals in the rest of the movie. He was like a breath of fresh air.

Posted By coffee : January 13, 2009 11:36 pm

i was wondering what happened to Mickey Rourke, then there he was at the Golden Globes

Posted By coffee : January 13, 2009 11:36 pm

i was wondering what happened to Mickey Rourke, then there he was at the Golden Globes

Posted By Medusa : January 14, 2009 1:12 pm

Coffee, if you haven’t seen “The Wrestler”, do so. He’s lost none of his tremendous talent and has gained even more humanity, perhaps.

Did you see his amazing speech at the Golden Globes where he gave a special thank you to all the dogs he’d owned who had helped him through the rough times? It was completely unprecedented and totally heartfelt. Quite special. Unique.

Posted By Medusa : January 14, 2009 1:12 pm

Coffee, if you haven’t seen “The Wrestler”, do so. He’s lost none of his tremendous talent and has gained even more humanity, perhaps.

Did you see his amazing speech at the Golden Globes where he gave a special thank you to all the dogs he’d owned who had helped him through the rough times? It was completely unprecedented and totally heartfelt. Quite special. Unique.

Posted By Medusa : January 14, 2009 3:24 pm

Mickey’s acceptance speech is here, btw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IClASh8WdOs

Posted By Medusa : January 14, 2009 3:24 pm

Mickey’s acceptance speech is here, btw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IClASh8WdOs

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