Sunday, January 02, 2011

"The Fighter" (2010) - Movie Review

“The Fighter” does not break grounds in a real life story making its way to the screen. It even lays out the plot details snipping out the crucial scenes from the film to its trailer giving me more reason to avoid trailers. What it does though is bring up Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams at their wondrous best. That makes all worth it to watch David O. Russell’s “The Fighter”, the film based upon the real life events of professional boxer Micky “Irish” Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older half brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale).

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch Drunk Love” features Adam Sandler as a grown bottled up in his emotions and fighting his place in the family and himself against his numerous over powering sisters. Add those sisters along with a crack addict Dicky and a controlling mother Alice (Melissa Leo) to the mix, you get Micky Ward stuck in the middle of a family doing emotional massacre with foul loud noises and smothering him in the name of love and affection. Even his fighting style is controlled by them. His family is all he knows and he hits rock bottom in boxing when Dicky and his mom lets him get in a ring with an opponent 20 pounds heavier than him. He needs breathing room.

Micky is played correctly by Mark Wahlberg wherein he does not emotionally express on his frustration and runs on a swinging balance of love towards his brother. He has the whole stereotyped Hollywood protagonist life story written on him starting from getting his daughter Kasie (Caitlin Dwyer) a better home. He needs to win fights and he is giving up. He meets a rough and tough bartender Charlene (Amy Adams). Charlene in her own way resembles his family members except she takes the other stand of firing Dicky and Alice from Micky’s fighting team.

“The Fighter” is not so much about the winning of fights. It is the regular pedigree for the movie’s title but the real story is in the drama of this family where love has been conditioned and nurtured into a different form of control game. It is not that they maliciously wants to ruin the career of Micky or provide destructive plans for failure but it is more about their belief that they are making the best decisions at their full capability towards the interest of their kin. This denial and ego makes them this hideous characters coming down upon Micky with no understanding whatsoever.

Charlene is the rational mind and the killer coin to check mate this wrong moves of Micky’s family. She obviously becomes the enemy. In this crazy mix of people is one genuine man by the name of George (Jack McGee), father of Micky and husband of Alice. He ofcourse as Micky is outnumbered both in number and authority by the women in the family. He though tries his hand to find the best for Micky.

Christian Bale as the laborious actor he is does the physical demand his character demands. He is lean and comically irritating. He is gloating on the victory he had fourteen years back towards Sugar Ray and prides on being the person to put his home town Lowell Massachusetts on the map. He knows his stuff but he is coked up and lives a life of trashy existence. His mother conveniently acts oblivious to this charade he puts up. All he needs is a moving comic song from him to forget the crappy things he does with his time. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale share several scenes together and they sparkle with performances. You see how two good actors can shine each other with just being there sharing the screen.

Thankfully the fight scenes are shot with ultimate real punches. It is boxing looking clumsy which the technical person can say as the rhythm but as a spectator it is the closest I have seen a boxing in a film comes to real life. It is not thrilling or motivating yet has a power to it when the moment of explosion happens. “The Fighter” comes through as one of the good films of 2010 due to the actors and the lengths each of them goes through and accommodates each other in providing the space and time to extract the best out of each other.

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