(Neo)Neo-Realism a big hit at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival

Mickey Rourke gives a performance of a lifetime in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler”

Like any event with a history, the cries of “sell out” appear pretty quickly and then reappear over and over again. The Toronto International Film Festival has not been immune to these accusations from film purists. This year the purists seem to have scored a small victory. Thanks to the chaotic state of the American economy plus Hollywood in general, studios have held back from unleashing their big ticket products in Toronto. The A-list stars are all here ensuring the cachet of the festival, but the films harken back to a more art house time.

This year’s festival has been marked by the strong return of realism. The film falling into the realist camp garnering the most buzz has been Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. A.O. Scott of the New York Times takes a look at the resurgence of realism:

These are not the usual indie touchstones — we’ve already seen enough would-be Tarantinos, Altmans, Scorseses and Cassaveteses for one lifetime — but rather the new masters whose names seems to resonate everywhere except in American mainstream movie culture. “Treeless Mountain” shows a clear thematic affinity with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Nobody Knows,” while in mood and tone it recalls some of the work of the Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien and the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.

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