Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Fighter Review

Sport movies are essentially all the same. They tend to be a true story where the sad and lonely under-dog scrapes the bottom of the barrel trying desperately to get to the top, and as a rule, fights through everyone's doubts to a glorious victory. On the outside The Fighter is exactly that in a nutshell. However, what makes this sport movie different from most are its superb performances, it's not so much about boxing, but instead a really depressing, drug-drenched melodrama about family, love and devotion. It's those relationships that really crab a hold of you and hug you so darly that you can't help but fall in love with the movie.

We go back in time to 1993 to the blue-collar town that is Lowell, Massachusetts. It's there we meet our main characters - Dicky (
Christian Bale) and Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). This family could not be more dysfunctional. Their mother (Melissa Leo) is one thick-headed lady who tends to show favoritism towards Dicky above anyone else. Dicky’s crack addiction is the subject of an HBO documentary that takes place throughout the entire movie and then there's Micky. Micky has a hard time coming to terms that his hard-headed family, rather than helping him, is actually standing between him and his dream of becoming a championship boxer. The family would rather sit in a pool of denial then move forward. This is when Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams) enters the picture. She's a college dropout working as a bartender, and before long she starts dating Mikey. She ends up clueing him in to the world around him. This, of course, upsets his family. However, with blunt pushes from his dad (Jack McGee) and girlfriend, Mikey's dream becomes more and more achievable.
The authenticity of this movie was phenomenal. Director David O. Russell does a wonderful job making everything so believable. The sets, the costumes, the hair, the makeup (or lack there of) were all done exceptionally well. It was very raw and very real. And if anyone is getting an Oscar this year it's Christian Bale. His performance was so sincere, so gritty that at times you have to remind yourself it's only a movie. He lets loose with an entertaining eye-popping wild-eyed loony, which is in contrast to Mark Wahlberg's brilliantly conceived likable subdued performance. Melissa Leo's loudmouth performance is a winner as well, as the mother from hell, who raises two boys and seven girls (who follow mom around and like a fan club, that was actually really funny btw). I also really enjoyed Amy Adams' strong willed, stand up for yourself character. She definitely adds another great performance to the mix. The troublesome family scenes add a splash of low-life and white trash to the predictable film that shows anything is still possible if you just believe.

The Fighter is definitely one of the best films to come out of 2010, just based on performances alone. It doesn't bring anything new to the genre, but I loved the acting, and I appreciated how good the fight scenes looked and felt. The film's raw, fight-to-the-end quality is what is so likable and at times gripping.


What did you think?


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