Friday, February 4, 2011

The Fighter

The Fighter (directed by David O. Russell) is a biographical film about professional boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his trainer and half-brother Dickey Eklund (Christian Bale), based on actual people and events. It is not just a boxing movie, thank goodness, and broadens out into an unflattering family portrait. Micky and his love interest Charlene (Amy Adams) are the most likeable characters, both showing determination against many obstacles. Dickey's addiction to crack cocaine is presented in awful detail. Their controlling mother, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo), is both manipulative and loyal. Many scenes feature Micky’s Greek chorus of seven sisters who constantly complain and criticize everyone. The sisters wear amusingly bad outfits and big 1980s hair.

The acting is good to excellent and the film communicates a time and place (Lowell, Massachusetts). The brutality of boxing and depths of drug addiction combine to make a well-told gritty story. Even the unpleasant family dynamics become a little heartwarming.

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