DVD reviews

We take a look at <em>The Wrestler</em> and <em>Bride Wars</em>, released this week on DVD. Both worth a look, in our opinion

The Wrestler

Dir Darren Aronofsky US (PG15)

After The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky has something to prove. It’s a question of reliability: can Aronofsky suppress the subversive tendencies which resulted in Pi and Requiem For A Dream and put together a commercially viable but artistically satisfying picture?

Narratively, The Wrestler is solid, even unspectacular. It uses its central character – Mickey Rourke’s ex-WWF champ Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson – as a baseline from which to explore a familiar tale of loss and renewal. Writer Robert D Siegel takes the obvious option at most turns – throwing in an estranged kid here, a stripper girlfriend there.

It’s lucky, then, that The Wrestler gets everything else right. Aronofsky directs with unfussy candour, alternating between the intensity of the wrestling and the drabness of Randy’s ‘real’ life. His biggest contribution is to stand aside and let Rourke go to work: the embodiment of the middle-aged comeback kid, it would have been easy for Rourke to play the Ram as a version of himself. But while the role is loaded, Rourke never coasts, delivering a committed, sympathetic portrait of a humble man cornered by bad decisions.

Perhaps because it’s his voice we hear over the closing credits, The Wrestler has been likened to Springsteen: both employ familiar, even old- fashioned elements, but both manage to spin them into something meaningful through sheer quality of craftsmanship and emotional investment in the material. That this material is a little stale disappoints, but this is rendered irrelevant by Aronofsky’s direction and Rourke’s performance.
Tom Huddleston
Dhs85 from Virgin Megastore

Bride Wars

Dir Gary Winick US (PG13)

Best friends fall out in this girlie comedy – but it’s not over a guy. No, it’s over something much more important: a wedding date. Emma (a sparky Anne Hathaway) and Liv (an underwhelming Kate Hudson) have both long dreamed of June weddings at New York’s Plaza Hotel. When their respective boyfriends propose, a slip-up means they are booked on the same date. The two compete for the best DJ, guest list, etc – eventually resorting to sabotage. The latter proves briefly amusing when Liv swiftly follows a sunbed prank with a pregnancy rumour. ‘Are we about to have a little orange baby?’ quips Emma’s boyfriend. But that’s as much wit as any of the characters show, and it’s hard to warm to these superficial women who learn the error of their ways in such an unconvincingly hasty fashion. Dry asides come from Kristen Johnston’s self-absorbed maid of honour – but most of the humour is broad and basic.
Anna Smith
Dhs85 from Virgin Megastore

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