Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Wrestler

So, for those of you who know me, I was not a fan of Black Swan. I found it cliched, derivative, incredibly cheesy, and overall, just poorly done. And then I saw Darren Aronofsky's companion piece, The Wrestler, and I was blown away. Now, THAT was a piece of cinema

I don't understand what happened. Aronofsky clearly saw the similarities between the two subjects - two individuals dedicated to their art and two artists who sometimes have to sacrifice themselves for said art - and I imagine that he researched the roles similarly. But why is The Wrestler so raw, so real, so finely nuanced and why is Black Swan what it is?

I'm beginning to see it from a feminist perspective. I just don't think Aronofsky knows how to portray women. To him, women are dolls facilitated into action by more urgent male characters and their stories are meant to be treated melodramatically and hysterically. The only way that women can survive is to suffer from psychosis - because they can't possibly achieve sublimity through normality.

Mickey Rourke's character on the other hand is so banal, so mundane, and so devoid of melodrama that he's actually believable. It's the scenes where he's congealing in banality that are the most heartbreaking - shopping for his estranged daughter, signing autographs (and waiting for fans) with the other washed-up wrestlers, working minimum wage behind the deli - those moments were gold. His pathos is communicated through the portrayal of an entirely ordinary life. No cliches, no overwrought acting, no unbelievable plot points (nobody's telling him to go home and masturbate for his art), and no contrived dialogue, just a man both in and outside his element.

If only Black Swan could've been treated with the same respect and care.


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