Friday, March 06, 2009

The Wrestler - The New York Times

Review Summary

Everyone knows professional wrestling is fake. Everyone knows the same about movies. In both cases the eager spectators simultaneously admire the artifice and pretend it isn’t there, allowing themselves to believe that those people down in the ring or up on the screen are truly inflicting pain on one another. “The Wrestler,” Darren Aronofsky’s fourth feature (and winner of the top prize at the Venice Film Festival this year), cannily exploits this parallel and at the same time shows that, in both movies and wrestling, the line between reality and play-acting may be less clear than we assume. Shooting his battered hero mainly in trudging, hand-held tracking shots, Mr. Aronofsky, whose earlier movies include the brain-teasing “Pi” and the swooning, fantastical, unwatchable “Fountain,” here makes a convincing show of brute realism. The supermarkets, trailer parks, V.F.W. halls and run-down amphitheaters of New Jersey are convincingly drab, and the grain of the celluloid carries a sour and salty aura of weariness and defeat. But the story that emerges is disarmingly sweet, indeed at times downright saccharine — a familiar parable of squandered hopes and second chances. It’s a bit phony, perhaps, but to refuse to embrace the movie’s deep hokiness would be to cheat yourself of some of the profound pleasure it offers. — A. O. Scott, The New York Times (Credit: The New York Times)

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The Wrestler