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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Films - The Fighter - directed by David O Russell

Star rating – 7/10

David O Russell’s story is a familiar one, brothers fighting against the odds, falling out with each other, and then pulling it together to battle against the world, on this occasion in a boxing ring. But ‘The Fighter’, which is based on a true story, although following this formula, is also an interesting watch, and a cut above a lot of other movies in this genre.

Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, a boxer trying to regain his confidence after a series of defeats, and Christian Bale is his coach and brother Dicky, who was a fighter once himself but has now descended into a crack addicted hell. As neither of these actors are strangers to brushes with the law over assault charges in real life they seem particularly well cast. Bale is outstanding as Dicky, and lost an alarming amount of weight to play the part. He plays crazy very well, with his eyes bulging as he hits drug fuelled highs and lows. Wahlberg is also convincing and magnetic as he has to make a painful choice between his family or his career.

He is helped through his difficulties by the marvellous Amy Adams, as his barmaid girlfriend who tells him a few home truths about how his family are dragging him down. And how right she is, with his vulture like mother who claims to be his manager but in truth is sponging off him; and his seven sisters who also mainly sit around the house and watch TV. It is just a bit of a shame that the sisters are portrayed as caricatures, as it detracts from the essence of the film.

Dicky is sent to prison for numerous crimes, and this gives Micky the painful chance to break away and resurrect his boxing hopes. But their bond is a strong one and so Dicky has a hand in the triumph when it comes. The second half of the film does degenerate into a Rocky rip off towards the end, but by that time we have bought into the brothers’ story and troubles enough to sit back and enjoy it.

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