I've been under the weather since Death Flu three weeks ago--what a great phrase "under the weather is," it describes the feeling exactly. So there is not much scintillating to report. But we did get to see The Wrestler last Saturday night and I was so moved by Mickey Rourke's performance--the broken gentleness, the manliness, the ease with his body and those of the other wrestling guys, contrasted with the incredible discomfort and harshness of life outside the ring. I had never been interested in Wide World of Wrestling, had only glimpsed it when turning on the TV to pop in a video, but this movie is about a man's relationship with his own body, and what happens when that body betrays him. I've never seen such a physical performance before, or one in which the physical and the emotional are so married.
Again--the character is not someone you want for a boyfriend or father--even for a friend--but the empathy is complete. I am thinking right now about the difference in empathy between a writer and an actor. A writer just has to describe a character's feelings and thoughts, an actor has to embody them. I read an interview with Kate Winslet where she said she had resistance to entering her character in the Reader. She didn't like the woman. Fair enough. But she did it anyway, because it is her work. It is not the artist's work to judge, it is the artist's work to enter.
I think it may have been not just that she didn't like the woman, but that the pain she was in was unbearable. I think about the people I have been unable to empathize with and wonder if it is because their pain was just too painful for me. It might not have to do with quantity of pain (as if that could be measured,) but the particular type of pain I found unpalatable.