Darren Aronofsky, ‘The Wrestler’

Helmer has weathered difficult path to victory

The wunderkind Brooklyn-born filmmaker has been bruised and bloodied in his fight toward victory, but nobody ever said the path to conquest was easy — or predictable.

Indeed, while Aronofsky’s first two films — “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” established splashy, nerve-rattling, guerrilla-style tactics targeting the Net Generation, his follow-ups have taken him through surprisingly different and difficult terrain. Shut down at least once, abandoned by Brad Pitt and nearly sabotaging his career, “The Fountain,” a metaphysical sci-fi romance, finally got made and yet was vanquished at the box office.

But Aronofsky survived to tell another tale, and “The Wrestler” — starring Mickey Rourke, in a comeback performance as an over-the-hill pro grappler — ambushed the director’s adversaries and won him new allies, along with the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Trophies: Venice Golden Lion; best director, Chicago Film Critics; Sundance Director’s Prize

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