Mickey Rourke did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NSFC, for portraying Robert "Boogie" Sheftell in Diner.
Diner marks Mickey Rourke's first major role in a film after having done some minor roles including his very memorable though brief work in Body Heat. This performance can be seen as the kickoff for the Rourke's early image as here he plays Boogie who is renowned and very much acknowledged ladies man of the group. Rourke is best described with one word here which simply is cool. In terms of realizing Boogie's character Rourke really is flawless in conveying the breezy sensibilities of Boogie. He just kinda wants to enjoy life with the ladies, and his friends without really dwelling on the matter much at all. Rourke though very importantly does not portray Boogie as some sort of excessively shallow womanizer even though the character could have been interpreted as such. As questionable as his behavior could possibly be Rourke conveys a youthful naivety about it. There's no malice to his mischief and really it is the behavior of guy who's just learning about being adult as he still is kinda playing things by ear as a teenager probably would.
It needs to be said of just how great Rourke is at being Boogie. He's so perfectly slick in the part and Rourke has such a bountiful yet easy going charm it makes him especially endearing. There is certainly is no need to question Boogie's status in the group because well Rourke simply is as Boogie is built up to be without question. He has such great charisma here that he really could not be more convincing in this role. Of course Rourke does well to show why Boogie happens to be so particularly appealing to the women in the film past the more obvious reasons. In the scene where he comforts one of his friends wives and even alludes to them possibly having an affair. Rourke brings such a genuine sweetness to Boogie that's it's hard not to like him even when he might be doing some rather questionable things. Rourke somehow pulls this off even when he is explaining to his date why a certain appendage of his ended up in a box of popcorn there. The whole explanation is absurd yet Rourke somehow manages to make feasible that Boogie could still win her over because there just does not seem to be a disingenuous bone in his body which is especially funny since Boogie is lying through his teeth.
Rourke never comprises Boogie's character in any moment but is terrific in staying consistent without being one note. Rourke realizes Boogie's whole manner in a natural fashion who is technically cool to be sure, but he also does purposefully keep it himself. Rourke's good in showing it not to be a facade really, but there are obviously times where he has to keep it up despite himself. Rourke shows the logic of Boogie to always be understandable to him as he tries to keep everything in his life pretty casual no matter what. Rourke makes complete sense out of Boogie's behavior which includes constant betting which puts him into considerable debt which he only tries to get out of by gambling some more. One of my favorite scenes of his performance is when he actually gets confronted by the bookie and Rourke shows Boogie trying to just play it cool even as the man obviously won't have it. When the man violently accosts Boogie to show the severity of the situation it is actually a surprisingly moving scene. Firstly it's hard to see something bad happen to Boogie since Rourke makes him so likable, but also Rourke conveys such a sadness in the scene as Boogie struggles to retain his usual demeanor as he clearly suffered more than just physical pain from the attack.
Rourke handles Boogie's maturation very effectively because he does so in such an intensely quiet fashion. Boogie never does lose his cool entirely and he seems very much for the most part at the beginning of the film as he does at the end. He does make some decisions that suggests a change in Boogie which are not explained through the film in words really. Rourke though in only subtle indications does portray Boogie finally accepting that he does need to take some responsibilities for his actions. These are never spelled out but never does it feel underwhelming because Rourke manages to still convey the idea with a particularly great ease. One such instance is when he must face his debt again. Rourke still keeps that cool but in his eyes the severity and understanding is clearly known to him as now he intends to face his problems head on. Rourke gives a very strong performance and I did not even mention the very enjoyable yet unassuming comic nature of some of his scenes. Rourke thrives though once again keeping the funny moments so naturally part of Boogie's character while still being quite amusing. This really is just a splendid and entertaining reminder of how charismatic and talented of a performer Rourke was in the early stage of his career.