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The Wrestler 

In the latest film from Sundance veteran Darren Aronofsky, it’s tough deducing just where aging wrestler Randy leaves off and Mickey Rourke — the actor playing him — begins. Like Randy, Rourke had a remarkable run back in the Reagan era. Also like Randy, shit happened to Rourke (drugs, messy break-ups, a misguided attempt at becoming a professional boxer), and his career was pretty much kaput by the time Bill Clinton was sworn into office. Since The Wrestler involves Randy’s quixotic attempt at redemption — courtesy of a 20th anniversary rematch of one of his most illustrious bouts and a possible reconciliation with his estranged daughter (a spiky Evan Rachel Wood) — it’s impossible not to think of the film as Rourke’s bid to reclaim his onetime Golden Boy status in Hollywood. The glory of Aronofsky’s movie, and why it’s faring so unexpectedly well during a particularly heated awards season, is that both character and actor triumph against some pretty formidable odds. HHHH

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