After seeing Mickey Rourke’s latest effort, I just couldn’t resist digging up a copy of that 1985 “masterpiece of erotica” Nine 1/2 Weeks. Unfortunately, although I’ve tried to watch it on three occasions now, I’ve been thwarted at each attempt by the sheer awfulness of it.
WTF moments in the film occur with metronome-like regularity. Kim Basinger stripping to the track “You Can Keep Your Hat On” is a standout. Fack, help me out here, how was that ever considered erotic? What drugs were we on in the 1980s?
In fact, the whole soundtrack is pretty peculiar, mainly because of its inappropriateness but also for the downright odd selections, such as Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports.” (While we’re on the topic of music, Rourke’s character’s top-of-the-line ’80s stereo is an absolute beaut. It has a robotic cassette deck that automatically flips out the cassette and turns it over. Cool!)
Other erotic mood derailments are bought on by Rourke’s continuous shit-eating grin that he wears throughout the film, the incredibly tawdry ’80s fashions and Basinger’s toe-curling stint as a drag-king. The only scene in the movie that still works erotically is the refrigerator food-fest – and that’s only if you turn the sound down.
Plotwise, the movie seems to be centered on the notion that Rourke’s character is molding Basinger into his ideal submissive. This could be sexy (a la Story of O) but the director seems a little toey about pursuing this angle fully, and appears to deliberately shoot the film in the foot with crap lines and stilted scenarios.
Interestingly, Rourke’s character in Nine 1/2 Weeks is an ’80s finance whiz – a guy who “buys and sells money.” It’s a tad ironic then that in the midst of the world’s current financial crisis, Mickey Rourke should make his comeback in The Wrestler.
Hollywood loves a comeback and The Wrestler is a fackin’ perfect storm of a comeback. And this is the problem I have with the film – it’s impossible to separate the film from Rourke’s real-life. The film is one part unimaginatively depressing tale of failure, quasi-redemption and unappealing New Jersey streetscapes; and one part gossip magazine lead story about a failed Hollywood could-have-been who rises from the ashes like a phoenix. Call me a cynic, but this is even more manipulative than a Disney flick.
What next? A movie about a glamorous Australian actress who makes crap movies and is married to a substance abusing urban guitar strummer? Isn’t using real-life in movies cheating?
Paradoxically, while Rourke’s character’s looks have gone to shit over the last twenty years, he is now able to attract better looking women than when he was young and handsome. His love interest in The Wrestler is Marisa Tomei, a yummy-mummy with pierced nipples (OK, OK, I admit I dunno whether they’re really pierced) who completely outclasses Basinger’s ’80s blonde.
Tomei’s hot, but the movie itself left me feeling distinctly lukewarm.