A buzzy new Oscar contender that’s actually worth seeing

A washed-out wrestler named Randy “the Ram” Robinson sets out to recapture a few moments of his in-the-ring glory. The washed-out heartthrob who plays him uses the role to stage a comeback of his own. And the resulting film — The Wrestler, directed by Darren Aronofsky, in limited release December 17 — is a minor-key triumph.

Randy (Mickey Rourke) lives in a trailer park and works in a supermarket; his spandex costumes are reminders of lost times and loose ends, which include an estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and a hopeless crush on a local stripper (Marisa Tomei). Rourke inhabits the role completely — his ruined face, bleached-blond hair, and punch-drunk puzzlement are pitch-perfect — and once you get past your initial reaction (“OMFG, what happened to Mickey Rourke?”), you’ll hope he’s back for good.

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A buzzy new Oscar contender that’s actually worth seeing