Film & TV

The Fighter

Rating: MA 15+

Running Time: 119 minutes

Release Date: 20 January 2010

Based on a true story about boxer  “Irish” Mickey Ward’s  (Mark Wahlberg) unlikely journey to the light welterweight championship title fight in the 1980’s.  Mickey, growing up in Lowell, Massacheutts and in the shadow of his older former boxer half-brother Dicky Ekland(Christian Bale) and his dysfunctional family has two fights on his hands, in the ring and out.  His domineering mother Alice (Melissa Leo)  also his self-appointed manager manages to incite the mob mentality of Mickey’s seven feral sisters to berate him into submission.  However with the help of new girlfriend, local bargirl Charlene (Amy Adams), Mickey finds the confidence to take on his family as well.

I know what you’re thinking, do we really need another boxing comeback story when we have Rocky, Raging Bull, Ali and Million Dollar Baby.  Well that is true and this story doesn’t actually add any new dimension however what makes this worth watching is the brilliant performance by Bale (The Dark Knight, American Psycho).  He is absolutely mesmerising as the strangely likeable crack addict Dicky with a typical portrayal of addicts mannerisms from twitching, manic highs, to violent outbursts and the withdrawal suffering.  This extended down to his physical appearance, pale, gaunt and malnourished which completes the total believability. 

Amy Adams (Sunshine Cleaning) is great as the sassy girlfriend determined to elevate herself out of the ghetto and to stand up for herself and her man.  Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) puts in a solid performance but without the rich characters around him it would just appear to be another stereotypical part for him except for his relationships with his mother, half brother and girlfriend all competing for his undivided attention and loyalty.  Melissa Leo (21 Grams) is also outstanding as the overbearing mother whose love for her children though well-meaning is terribly misguided.  But it’s a case of survival and keeping the family together no matter the consequences.  Her seven daughters are initially cartoonish to the point of being over the top but as the film settles in they become less obvious and more believable.  Spot Conan O’Brien’s sister as one of them!  Director David O’Russell (I Heart Huckabees) boxing scenes are gritty and realistic and capture the essence of the era. 

4/5 stars

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