As I'm sure you all remember, the 2010 Oscars was more like a battle between Avatar and The Hurt Locker then an awards show. The 2011 Oscars, however, was more like a free for all between The King's Speech, The Black Swan, The Fighter, The Social Network, True Grit, Toy Story 3 and Inception. The competition was thick, and there weren't any clear cut winner; each film getting their own share of awards. Having finally seen a few of these movies recently, I decided to give my thoughts on one of them. This is the Illusive One's Review of The Fighter.
The Fighter is a film about the rise of Welterweight Champion “Irish” Micky Ward and his complicated relationships with his family, particularly his crack-head older brother Dicky, who taught him everything he knows about boxing. It was directed by David O. Russell and stars Mark Wahlberg as Micky, (who also produced the film), Christian Bale as Dicky, his crack addicted bother, Amy Adams as Charlene, Micky's girlfriend, and Melissa Leo as Alice Ward, Micky's overbearing mother, (Bale and Leo both won Best Supporting Oscars for their roles).
Before I get into the positives and negatives of this film I want to talk about boxing movies in general. When it comes to sports movies, boxing movies always seem to get Oscar Nominations but never for any other sport. Anyone have any thoughts as to why? Despite this, to me, each film always seems to have new themes and fresh looks on the matter. Rocky was a great underdog story, Raging Bull, (am I the only one who thinks that title sounds dirty?), gave an unmerciful display of a boxers life, Ali showed the good and bad in boxer Muhammad Ali during the 60's and 70's, Cinderella Man was the story of a comeback and triumph during the Great Depression, and Million Dollar Baby was more about the affect the boxer was having on her trainers life. While each one of these films was great I still can't help but wonder why boxing? Why can't stories about football or baseball be as compelling? Please give me your thought on this because I'm at a loss.
In any case, back to The Fighter.
There are a lot of good things about this film so get ready for a long read in this section. As I mentioned above, each boxing film brings new themes and fresh looks on the subject and The Fighter was no acceptation. The story had as much to do with how Micky's family treated him as it did with boxing and questions how far family loyalty should go.
The acting was fantastic to say the least. Mark Wahlberg was perfect as Micky and I personally think he got snubbed for a Best Actor nomination. Christian Bale was also fantastic and believable as Micky's crack-head, burnt-out brother. Melissa Leo was also great in her role as Micky's selfish, overbearing mother and was a complete fucking bitch, (but in a good, believable way). Amy Adams was also good as Charlene but was outshined by the other cast members.
Even the minor characters were great. Jack McGee was great as George Ward, Micky's father who seemed to be the only family member who wanted more for Micky while the rest were just happy to let him be a nobody and get beat half to death by other boxers. Last to mention is Mickey O'Keefe as...well himself; Micky Ward’s other trainer. Although he has few lines and his screen time is short, he did a really great job with it.
Last to mention is the music. While there isn't an original score to it, it uses classical rock and bop and fits in perfectly with the film.
There are a few other things that I felt were positives but kind of put me off; just things that made me feel a little uncomfortable. For starters was Bale's performance as Dicky. As I mentioned, he was fantastic and incredibly believable as a crack-head. Almost a little too believable for my taste. I've had the displeasure of knowing a few junkies and druggies in my life and let me tell you, they are fucking disgusting and unpleasant to be around and I couldn't help but think about those people while watching the first half of the movie.
Throughout most of the movie, Micky's entire family, (with the exception of his dad), seemed like a bunch of manipulating, possessive parasites. This mainly put me off because, once again, I have had personal experience with people like this and it kept me thinking about them. But this is more of a personal thing for me and I wouldn't expect it to hinder anyone else's enjoyment of the film.
There are a few negatives to mention. For starters, Bale's thinning hair just didn't look right. I know that's nitpicking, but I still couldn't help but notice that it didn't look right; almost like they shaved certain parts of his head then covered it back up.
There were also disappointingly few fights in the first half of the movie. I know that's how boxing movie tend to be but I still found it a little annoying.
And last, it's another boxing movie. Most tend to follow the same formula and The Fighter was no exception.
In the end, I found this movie incredibly enjoyable and well worth my time. The acting was great as were the themes involved. If you like boxing movies then I'd highly recommend this one but if you’re looking for one with a different formula this isn't it. But to me, this film has the perfect blend of Oscar Bait and commercial appeal so check it out when you have a chance.