While slappies like Viggo Mortensen hedge their Oscar '08 futures with something close to a film per month, we much prefer the bombast of all-or-nothing awards-season power hitters like Daniel Day-Lewis and Mickey Rourke. Yes, we wrote Mickey Rourke — he of the inflated face, reckless scooter piloting, and now of the acclaimed Darren Aronofsky film The Wrestler, a stirring Venice Film Festival success that Variety pumped as featuring "a galvanizing, humorous, deeply moving portrait that instantly takes its place among the great, iconic screen performances":
Stylistically, it's agile, alert and most interested in what's going on in the characters' faces. And that is a lot. Physically imposing at 57 [sic], with a face that bespeaks untold battering and alteration, Rourke is simply staggering as Ram. The camera is rarely off him, and one doesn't want it to be, so entirely does he express the full life of this man with his every word and gesture. Ram's life has been dominated by pain in all its forms, but he's also devoted it to the one thing he loves and excels at, so he asks for no sympathy; he may have regrets, but no complaints.
In fact, Rourke only turns 52 this month — yet another testament to his prodigious talent for playing older, uglier and more selflessly than his preening peers. Look for the discussion to continue to this week in Toronto, where The Wrestler will square off with another has-been high-water mark, Jean-Claude Van Damme's JCVD — thus reviving the Rourke/Van Damme rivalry that so engrossed Razzie Award voters after their doomed 1997 collaboration Double Team. We're likely as glad as they they are to see those days behind them, but we still hope they'll follow proper star-reunion etiquette when passing each other en route to screenings. If we didn't pay to see the fight then, Lord knows we wouldn't pay to see it now.