Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," starring Mickey Rourke, won the prized Golden Lion at the Venice film festival. Russia's Alexei German Jr. scooped the Silver Lion, while France's Dominique Blanc took best actress for her part in "L 'Autre."
Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," starring gritty survivor Mickey Rourke, won the coveted Golden Lion at the Venice film festival on Saturday.
"I'd like to really thank the jury for making the right decision," said Rourke, making a comeback after years in the cinema wilderness.
Aronofsky dedicated the award "to all the wrestlers we met along the way who are making 200 dollars a night and are willing to sacrifice their bodies and their souls for it."
"The Wrestler" casts Rourke, 51, as a has-been professional wrestler pitifully loath to throw in the towel.
The film mirrors Rourke's real-life experience as a boxer in the early 1990s and his regrets over an acting career that he says he "threw away" 15 years ago.
Formidable with long blond hair that he has to dye to keep the grey out, Rourke's character, whose stage name is Ram, has been around so long that kids can buy action dolls and video games featuring his stunts.
After a heart attack reduces him to working at a supermarket deli counter, serving "hot horny housewives begging for your meat" in the words of his boss, Ram throws caution to the wind and climbs into the ring for more abuse and adulation.
"He made it close to a documentary," Rourke said of Aronofsky. "These guys end up, when they're only in their 40s and 50s, in a rocking chair or a wheelchair. We didn't realise that until we did the research."
Reflecting on his patchy career -- though talk of a comeback began with his role as a hardened ex-con in the 2005 crime thriller "Sin City" -- Rourke said: "Feeling shameful is not a good feeling, and usually you're to blame for it."
Date created : 2008-09-06