Monday, January 24, 2011

The Fighter

One of my greatest joys in life is to go to a movie with fairly low expectations, and find myself totally engrossed in the film. I had a joyous day yesterday. I had heard that 'The Fighter' had great performances in it, but the film itself wasn't up to much. Most reviews have given it a 3 star grading. A Mark Wahlberg fan since 'Boogie Nights' (no, not for the last scene), I think he's a remarkably good actor, and totally admire his work ethic, and the fact that he could have spiralled down, instead choosing the harder road and has gone from strength to strength as an actor and producer. I also very much admire Christian Bale, though am more dubious as to his off screen character. He has the disciplined ability to physically inhabit the person he is portraying. I didn't have high hopes for the film though and absolutely detest boxing. It's the true story of Micky Ward (Wahlberg) who is a fighter in the shadow of his brother, local legend Dicky Eckland (Bale). Dicky is a legend in Lowell Massachusetts because he once fought, knocked down, but lost to Sugar Ray Leonard, although there seems to be some discrepancy as to whether Sugar Ray was punched out or slipped. Dicky has been riding the wave ever since. Dicky coaches Micky, and is mother is his manager (a claustraphobic matriarchal Melissa Leo). They do not always make the wisest choices for Micky, who is in a confidence crisis. Micky is aware of this, but is also bound by the love of his huge poor Catholic/ Boston/Irish family. Incidentally, why do Americans from Irish descent hundreds of years ago insist on calling themselves Irish? Anyway, the picture is even more clouded as Dicky is a crack addict and petty criminal who has been in and out of prison. He has the HBO cameras following him to document the toll this terrible drug takes on a person, which appeals to his showmanship character. Micky then meets Charlene, a down to earth bar tender (Amy Adams can do no wrong), and they fall in love. Charlene encourages Micky to seek alternative management, as the family is beginning to drag him down. It's a simple tale, but it's a really powerful one. The torment that Micky goes through is palpable. It really is heartbreaking, Dicky is an obviously talented athlete, with oodles of charm, but continues to choose the wrong path. Micky's family, a wall of indominatable sisters would make most men rung from the ring. It is clear that they all love each other very much, but are caught up in past hurts and their own narrow minded views. It is a real cracker of a film. I would recommend anyone to see it. Mark Wahlberg is outstanding as the quiet, yet powerful Micky and a selfless actor who lets Christian Bale shine as the gregarious and likeable junkie. Melissa Leo is brilliant as the overbearing Mother playing off against the quieter father, George, played by Jack McGee. Micky's actual trainer, Mickey O'Keefe, a Police Officer, plays himself, and is very good. The family dynamics are exaggerated, but ones that most of us who aren't siblingless orphans will recognise. The film has already scooped some Golden Globes, come Wednesday we will see whether it receives some much deserved Oscar nominations. THE FIGHTER: A knockout. 8.5/10

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I had the same misgivings as you, but after reading this, I'll definitely be putting them to one side. I love Marky Mark too...& Christian is a fab (if slightly sinister) actor! I'm seeing The King's Speech twice in less that 24 hours tonight/tomorrow by the way! All my love from a Suffolk South African Jewish Atheist with Latvian/Viking bits. Top O' The Mornin To Ya. xoxoxo