Picks and Pans Review: The Wrestler

updated 12/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood | R |

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Where would pro wrestling, or Hollywood, be without sentimental comebacks from grizzled veterans? Rourke, playing a once-famous grappler on the comeback trail, makes a spectacular return to top form in an earnest, sweaty drama. The Wrestler is a moving character study of Randy "the Ram" Robinson (Rourke), who, despite trying hard, can't figure out a life for himself outside the ring. Rourke portrays Randy with such depth of feeling, and delicacy, that you share his every bruise. Tomei, as his stripper girlfriend, and Wood, as his estranged daughter, are excellent as well.

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