Movie Review: The Fighter (2010)

| 22 January , 2011 | Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed By: David O. Russell
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams

Based on the true story of Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale) and his brother Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), The Fighter is a powerful telling of various life battles, both in the ring and out. This is a story about struggle and conflict—not only about boxing, but also about a fight against addiction, a fight for place, and a fight both for and against those you love. It tackles many challenges: the pressures of living in a small town, drug addiction, the twin poles of love and self-destructiveness inherent in family, and the inescapable violence and malaise present in a setting of social decay.

The narrative follows the story of brothers Dickie Eklund and Micky Ward—the former is has traded in his once-promising boxing career for cocaine addiction and the small-town glory accompanying one shining moment in an honourable defeat, while the latter is battling to find his place and enough space outside of his brother\’s shadow to fulfil his own boxing potential.

As a celebrated local hero, Eklund has succumbed to his drug use, making him a skeleton of his former self. Despite this, he retains much of his charm and sly charisma, and his addiction is carefully ignored by those around him who wish, and in many ways need, for him to keep his role as a champion, refusing to see him as anything else—even at the expense of his health and stability.

Meanwhile, Ward must choose between the ill-fated grip of his family and that of carving his own path. When he meets local barmaid and love interest Charlene (Amy Adams), it would seem that he finally has the much-needed support to go out on his own, but to do so, he will need to turn his back on his self-destructive and unreliable brother, which doesn\’t sit easy with his brother\’s supporters or his family.

There are three truly outstanding performances that enable The Fighter to venture into such uncomfortable waters with admirable success: Amy Adams\’s tough and persistent role as Micky\’s girlfriend Charlene sees her shed her customary attractive façade to reveal a gritty and determined performance.

Christian Bale is barely recognisable as Dickie Eklund—he is completely transformed and eerily true to life (a role that will no doubt attract a lot of critical acclaim), and Mark Wahlberg has again shown that his days with the Funky Bunch could not be more resigned to history, as his mature and in many ways subtle performance seemed perfectly shaded.

It is a remarkable film in many ways, and while it took me a while to acclimatise to an essentially foreign sport and social dynamic, what was initially challenging had me completely absorbed and involved by the film\’s end—to such an extent that I was both excited and nervous for the outcome of the final boxing match.

Much like the real-life characters, there is a delightful and endearing spirit to this film, which offers generous laughs and quite a few charming human moments. While on the surface a film about boxing might not seem to possess immediate allure, I would encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and give this film a chance. Not only will it be a great film to take your significant male other to, but it truly is a quality dramatic piece. Failing this, there is a lot always the hotness factor of a buffed up Mark Wahlberg!

The Fighter is in cinemas from January 20.


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Category: Film & TV

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