The Wrestler (2008)
The dramaturgy is rather conventional (from the estranged child to the final match, the film bears strong resemblance to some of Sylvester Stallone's lesser 1980s vehicles), and Darren Aronofsky's direction is surprisingly passive in this film about a burnt out professional wrestler who struggles to find meaning in his life after being forced into retirement. Still, Mickey Rourke's ravaged appearance fits well with the nature of the title character, and helped by the film's good-natured and sympathetic story, Rourke delves into his best performance on this side of the 1980s, bringing life to a man who assigns too much significance to the accomplishments for which he is celebrated, while strongly underestimating his accomplishments in the areas of life he feels he cannot handle. This insightful duality, and the anguish it brings onto this simple but sensitive man, makes The Wrestler an effective and thought-provoking piece. And Aronofsky finally gets into his highly talented stride towards the end, particularly with the brilliantly conducted final scene.