Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Fighter Gives New Meaning To 'Hardscrabble'

As a general rule, I don't like fight films.
Except that I loved Requiem for a Heavyweight (both the TV and movie versions) and Somebody Up There Likes Me.
But fight films don't appeal to me.
Except that I thought Raging Bull was astounding.
Still, I can do without fight films.
Even though I loved Rocky I and II and thoroughly enjoyed the most recent version, Rocky Balboa. And I suppose I'm one of the few people who've seen both the original movie version of Golden Boy and the Broadway musical of the same name with Sammy Davis, live.
So, yes I've seen the new Mark Walhberg/Christian Bale flick, The Fighter. It's a helluva good yarn. And, as fight films go, it's thoroughly engrossing.
Based on a real life tale, this is the story of "Irish" Micky Ward and his family. Micky, of Lowell, Mass., became world light welterweight champion partly because of and party despite his family -- his frantic brother Dicky, his combustible mother Alice, his street smart girlfriend Charlene and his seven senselessly scrappy sisters.Oh, and there's also his father, his step-father, assorted fight promoters, trainers, prostitutes, drug dealers and the whole town of Lowell.
As Micky, Wahlberg gives a subtle, understated performance packed with deep-eyed intensity. This leave plenty of room for Bale to climb over the top as Dicky. Bale is the sort of high-velocity actor who can play characters whose risky behavior and unpredictable outbursts alternately attract and repel us. Once again, he does not disappoint. Bale is quite simply one of the most exciting actors working today. As Alice, Melissa Leo is the type of grappling, profane Rowhouse Rosie that we know all too well. She's a staple in America's remaining white, urban, ethnic enclaves. And Amy Adams is tough and tender as Charlene. It's really quite an ensemble.
There's no question that Micky Ward earned his pugilistic pedigree. To get to the top he had to build a tough physical veneer for the ring while stripping himself bare emotionally with his family and his girlfriend. And the whole story is here. It's wrenching, and gritty. Plus, the film's authenticity is backed up by both faux and real documentary footage.
Be forewarned: Hard punches.Raw language. Blood and guts.
Hardscrabble all the way.
The Fighter packs a powerful wallop.

1 comment:

Bonnie Sashin said...

Sounds like you love fight films, as do I. Good review of a the year's best movie!