Darren Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors, and I've loved his last three films. This is a definite change of pace. Instead of his usual visual flourishes, he strips down his aesthetic, and simply follows the characters. Mickey Rourke is the movie, and through the almost Dardenne brothers like style, we get inside the mind of a man who can do one thing, do it great, but no longer has a place where can excell in that field, professional wrestling. Rourke has few friends, but he does have one person he seems to connect with, a stripper played by Marisa Tomei. As Rourke is sidelined for a time, he begins to try and reconnect with his daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood, at the urging of Tomei. This isn't a film you need to go into with any predeliction towards pro Wrestling, you can even hate it, and I don't think that'd detract from what a great movie it is and how special the performances are. I like Mickey Rourke, and I like even more now that his face is a big hunk of battered flesh. Even in a cartoonish role like Marv in Sin City, Rourke brings a sadness to his characters, a kind of big lug with a lot of inner conflict, that you rarely see in men of his build in movies. Tomei and Wood are equally as good in their scenes, balancing out Rourke's tragic hero. The music, much like the wrestling attire, is often cheesy, but it so fits the world of these characters, and what they listen to and like that any other choice would diminish the realism that this film thrives in. A small, human drama that's distincly American, and yet approached from an angle more traditionally seen in European films, The Wrestler is a clear departure for Aronofsky, but one that's not out of line with his creativity or his talent. At the Q&A after the film Aronofsky mentioned that he thought of his first three films as a loose trilogy, building up to 2006's The Fountain, and that he hopes he can continue to reinvent himself and surprise his audience. With The Wrestler, Aronofsky surprises his audience a great deal, and delights them even more.