Thursday, December 9, 2010


Still from The Fighter
The Fighter is a remarkable film in that with the throw of a punch, Director David O. Russell covers an inordinate amount of ground in this Biopic about former Welterweight Boxing World Champion "Irish" Mickey Ward. Is it a Comedy? At moments. Is there Drama? Lots of it. Is it a Love Story? Sure, there is. Is it an Action Film? There are many intense, tightly-choreographed Fight scenes, so I'm inclined to say yes. Is there heart and soul to the story? It's a Technical Knockout.

The Film recounts Mickey's (Mark Wahlberg) rise to the top, starting off as a young man Boxing out of financial necessity in Lowell, Massachusetts. Overshadowed by his older Brother Dickie (Christian Bale) whose claim to fame once was defeating the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard, Mickey struggles to find his own identity as a Boxer. Managed by his domineering Mother Alice (Melissa Leo), he finds himself questioning his own best interests as both she and Dickie seem more fixated on launching the latter's Comeback, having battled many years of setbacks due to his Crack Addiction.

Dickie soon finds himself in legal trouble after being driven to Crime out of financial desperation,  landing himself in Prison. Mickey is no longer able to support the questionable ways of his older Brother and this causes a divide between him and his Family.  Above this, Dickie's lack of focus and dedication in guiding Mickey's career continues to leave him with lackluster results.  Mickey finds comfort and self-confidence in tough-talking Girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams) and a new Trainer, much to the disappointment of Alice and Dickie who had been an integral part of his career all along.  We wonder, will Mickey ever realize his full potential as a Boxer?  Also, will he become a Casualty of War in being pulled two polar opposite directions by the people who matter most to him?

Make no mistake about it, the Academy would be blind to ignore some of the outstanding performances we see in The Fighter.  Bale, despite working with the same material as his Cast Mates in Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson's Screenplay, is able to take Dickie and transform this into a devastatingly complex and commanding performance - simultaneously erratic, yet driven at once.  His portrayal is haunting and lingers long after the Credits have rolled.  

Although we've seen Adams fragile and naive many a time before, she taps into a dark place here, v. successfully evoking the history and deeply-embedded disappointment required of Charlene.  Leo churns out yet another outstanding performance, this time leaving less to the imagination as a Frying Pan-throwing Mother Hen of the roost.
Wahlberg however, quickly is becoming one of my new favourite Actors, in yet another display of incredible versatility.  Although no doubt purposefully out-shined for most of the Film, he steps up to the rigorous challenges needed in Mickey and we go on a bit of a learning experience with him in his own journey to self-realization.  By the end of it all, we share in both Mickey's and Wahlberg's victories as this along with Boogie Nights, marks yet another career-defining performance.

Alliance Films' The Fighter will be in limited release in the U.S. on December 10, 2010 and in wide release on December 17, 2010 in Canada. If you enjoyed its Executive Producer Darren Aronofsky's excellent The Wrestler, you just might find even more to love here.  A serious and deserving contender for Best Picture.  Grade: A+

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