“The best sequence in The Wrestler, even more likely to lodge in your mind than the soaring sadness of the climax, takes place not on the wrestlers’ canvas, with its carpet of blood and broken glass, but at the deli counter of the supermarket,” writes New Yorker critic Anthony Lane in the current issue.

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler

“Here Randy (Mickey Rourke), needing the money, dons a protective hairnet and doles out pasta salad. He even pins on a name tag that says ‘Robin,’ randiness being too rich for this clientele. The dent to his pride is profound, more wounding than any professional blow to the head, and the scene closes in agony, as he takes out his frustration on a meat slicer.

“But here’s the thing: while the job lasts, he’s pretty good at it, bringing a brief shaft of pleasure to the customers, and suffering any taunts that come his way. What Rourke offers us, in short, is not just a comeback performance but something much rarer: a rounded, raddled portrait of a good man. Suddenly, there it is again — the charm, the anxious modesty, the never-distant hint of wrath, the teen-age smiles, and all the other virtues of a winner.

“No wonder people warmed to Randy Robinson twenty years ago. I felt the same about Mickey Rourke, and I still do.”