It only had its premiere a few weeks ago, but Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestlerhas already become one of the hottest properties to emerge from the fall-festival circuit. The story of a once-famed wrestler (Mickey Rourke) who reemerges after 20 years to reclaim his folk heroism doesn’t exactly sound like a rare commodity, but the movie took the top prize at Venice last weekend and has been touted as a major comeback for Rourke and Aronofsky, who could both use one.
After its North American premiere earlier this week at Toronto, Fox Searchlight picked up the movie for almost $4 million, a rare success story this year for the grim independent-film marketplace.
In many ways, The Wrestler is just the movie to have that success, too, with its press-ready story of two lapsed talents triumphing with an intimate underdog story of their own. Other than an ensemble part in Sin City, Rourke hasn’t had a hit in ages, and Aronofsky, who blew away the independent scene with Requiem for a Dream in 2000, moved on to years of pre-production hell to get The Fountain made only to watch it flop spectacularly when it was finally released. Now, if Fox Searchlight can come up with the right sell, The Wrestler seems a sure candidate for early Oscar attention.
There’s no trailer yet, but here’s an early look from Toronto:
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