Lord of the ring

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke is Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a professional wrestler whose candle has burned platinum-blonde bright through a 20-year career. He's another in Aronofsky's line of characters whose dreams are bigger than they are, and the film tallies the cost of his calling in dollars and sense.

"I don't hear as good as I used to, and I forget stuff," he explains. When he's out of the ring, Randy wears a hearing aid and incongruously delicate reading glasses.

He endures an insulting boss at a low-wage job and spends his paychecks on dye jobs and bags of steroids - all for the glory of a few minutes in the ring, which has faded from arenas and action figures to rec centers and empty signing events.

His body nearing breakdown, Randy considers a new life, with a stripper who's also feeling the pressure of time (Marisa Tomei, fine in every way) and the daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) he walked out on long before.

Wood's character feels as much an afterthought to screenwriter Robert Siegel as she does to her absentee dad, but Siegel does bring a depth of detail, plus respectful humor, to Randy's bottom-rung milieu.

Siegel and Aronofsky also give Rourke the perfect role for a difficult comeback, and the actor who turned heads from his earliest performances molds himself to it like spandex.

"The Wrestler"

Opens Friday at Landmark's Gateway Theater

Grade: B+