It’s hard to separate the real life back story of Mickey Rourke from the performance itself. They’re so intricately intertwined. But if you can, you’ll realize that yes, this Rourke performance is one helluva turn. And he seems to be having a ball as well, relating on a real level with his character and his characters friends. With the life, if you will. It’s the small things that ring so true. The locker room camaraderie. The halting attempts to re-connect with his long abandoned daughter. The desperate reaching out for companionship with Marisa Tomei’s stripper character.
When Randy the Ram has a heart attack and tentatively retires, he asks for more hours at his part time job at a grocery store. He’s offered the deli counter. This is my favorite scene in the movie. It seemed improvisational, but I don’t know if that was the case. I do know that the way he relates to the ‘customers’ is real. Here’s a man that’s used to dealing with an audience, and he can’t resist performing. Very funny…until he storms off.
The triumph of the film and of the script and of Rourke’s performance, is that he plays a cartoon like character with a very, very human heart. And it shows.
The rest of the movie (the relationships between Randy and the two women) are cartoonish, or at least predictable and melodramatic. So the movie has to stand on Rourke’s broad shoulders – and it does.