Even with the greatest documentary or fiction film it is hard to know what we have learned after watching. Whatever is communicated is always rooted in points of view. That’s why the most objective looking films are often the ones to be most sceptical about. Film is a re-presentation of a reality which will always illude objective presentation. Film is not reality. This is clear when you see the highly stylized Man on Wire -the hand behind the camera draws attention to itself, building suspense with cinematic techniques such as compostion and contrast -never a bad thing in my book.
The Wrestler is a film that uses a documentary-style cinematic approach that doesn’t engage itself with the language of cinema -thereby faking a form of “realism” that I rarely take to. But particularly because of Mickey Rourkes’ performance , which is truly roaming an area somewhere between reality and fiction, it somehow works. His mountainous performance may be one of the best in decades, and is based on extreme honesty -something that is also obvious when you see this man interviewed. Every interview is boring after watching Rourke’s brutally honest answers.
Despite Rourke’s documentary-style tour-de-force I’ll always engage more with films that reinterpret reality in its own artistic universe. Those films underline the difference between the artistic representation and a reality that can only be accessed through the eyes of the on-looker, or lens of the filmmaker. That is cinema at its finest.