In a nutshell: Heartbreaking and uplifting, a return to the boxing movies of the late 1970s

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Family. It can make you, but it can just as easily break you too. And that’s the crux of boxing flick, The Fighter, which tells the tale of talented pugilist Micky “Irish” Ward’s fall and rise in the professional ring.

The Pride of Lowell, Dickie Eklund is a boxing king back in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, having knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in his heyday. But now it’s 1993 and Dickie is a 40-year-old crack addict living on the coat tails of his former success. Permanently in Dickie’s shadow is kid brother Micky, a “stepping-stone” boxer who is trained by Dickie and managed by mouthy mum Alice. Micky has potential sure, but with his family turning out to be more of a hindrance than a help, can he leave them behind?

For boxing fan Mark Wahlberg (who apparently has his own boxing ring at home), telling fellow Bostonian Micky’s story has been a labour of love and, playing Micky, Wahlberg puts in a solid performance. He is quieter, deeper than his sibling and it is an understated performance from the can-be -a little shouty-at-times Wahlberg, ably supported by Amy Adams as MTV skank girlfriend, Charlene.

As Dickie and passive-aggressive, mother-from-hell Alice, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are on top scene-stealing form. And that’s as it should be, for while Micky is the quieter, more dependable son, it is the tricksy Dickie and pushy Alice who are the driving force behind Micky’s success and failure.

Then we have Micky’s seven sisters and their increasingly distressed looking hair, who seem more group caricature than real, living people with personalities and lives. It’s a small point, of course, but it’s the one flaw in a gently compelling film.

Erring at times on the slow side, The Fighter may not be as exciting as the latest Hollywood blockbuster tat but it will stay with you longer and, if you don’t want to cheer aloud at least twice during this film, then maybe you should ask if you are actually human after all.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

  1. imzahmed29 says:

    Do you think, if Mark Wahlberg’s performance was a much louder performance, maybe the other guys like Melissa Leo and Christian Bale they wouldn’t be as scene- stealing? It would come off more like an ok performance?

  2. curlyshirley says:

    I think that Wahlberg’s performance needed to be more sedate than Dicky and his mum, because the real Micky (the glimpse of him we saw at the end anyway) showed him as such a quiet person, happy to let Dicky lead. It would have done Micky an injustice to have portrayed him as a more brash character than he was. Unfortunately, playing someone who is less of a showman, means that other, more colourful characters are more memorable.

    I also think, as an actor, Mark Wahlberg tends to give off a certain barely suppressed anger (he does play a lot of shouty characters), which didn’t always sit well with Micky’s more genial personality. You?

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