Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei

After years of abusing his body and alienating Hollywood, Mickey Rourke was always going to need a special film to get up off the canvas.

Fortunately for the bad boy with a busted face, the script for The Wrestler landed in his in-tray.

Slipping into a role that fits him like a pair of lycra pants, Rourke puts in a career-defining performance as ageing grappler Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson.

Cashing in on past glories, Robinson stumbles from one small wrestling show to another, putting himself through the meat-grinder for little reward. Things get worse when he suffers a heart attack and is told to quit grappling.

Forced to lead a relatively normal life, Robinson tries to forge a steady relationship with a stripper (Tomei) and reconcile with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).

Can he eke out a mundane existence or is the lure to step back into the ring just too powerful?

It’s not the most original of storylines (a bit like Rocky Balboa with the gloves off), but Darren Aronofsky works wonders with the material.

Delving deep into the bizarre world of pro-wrestling where pumped-up giants trade blows and insults in the ring but are best mates in the dressing room, the director creates a fascinating backdrop.

Aronofksy’s skill is matched by Rourke, who is so convincing in his portrayal of an ‘old, broken-down piece of meat’ you feel you are watching a documentary.

It’s a remarkable comeback that deserves a standing ovation. PIERRE DE VILLIERS