MOVIE: The Fighter (2010)

I wasn’t sure I wanted to see this film when it was in theaters.  The critics were raving, my friends were raving, but it had two elements that were keeping me away.  One is that Christian Bale’s freaky, freaky teeth are freaky, and the other is that, in general, I’m not a huge fan of watching people get punched in the face repeatedly.

So, you know:  boxing movie starring Christian Bale?  Problematic.

After a conversation about the film with a close friend who assured me that, yes, people indeed got punched in the face a lot, but  nobody’s teeth flew out of their mouths in a bloody spray of gaaaaah (I have a “thing” about teeth) (you may have noticed), I finally went ahead and rented the thing a few weeks ago (sorry, way behind on film reviews here!).  And, just like everybody said I would, I ended up really enjoying it!

The story is about two brothers in Boston, Dicky (Bale) and his younger brother Micky (Mark Wahlberg).  Both are boxers, but Dicky’s career is pretty much dead, in no small part because of a crack habit, while Micky’s is on the up-and-up.  For his entire life as a boxer, Micky’s been managed and trained by his older brother and his mother (Oscar-winner Melissa Leo), but as he begins losing fight after fight, while Dicky gets high and fails to show up for training sessions, he begins to reconsider his family as his greatest asset. Supported in the decision by his new girlfriend, Charlene (Amy Adams), Micky breaks the news to Dicky and his mother (the Oscar-winning Melissa Leo), much to their offended fury, and heads off to Vegas to train with new management.

Though his fighting improves and his career begins to take off at last, Micky feels increasingly like he’s being forced to choose between his family and his vision for his life.  Will that get in the way of his fights?  Or will it ultimately be his roots that end up cementing his success?

This is a great film in many ways, and a riveting (true) story to boot.  I did have some problems with it, though.  The primary one was the relationship between Charlene and Micky, which never felt authentic to me.  His dedication to her and willingness to drop his family when she asked him to, a family that is incredibly close and deeply loyal, just didn’t fly to me.  Of course, they had to squeeze this relationship into two hours of a movie not focused on romance, so the build-up of their love for each other necessarily got short-changed.  But still, I didn’t feel much chemistry between the two, and it’s not all because I don’t like Amy Adams (though I loved her in Junebug, I haven’t seen her in anything since that really lit my fire, so to speak).

On the other hand, both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo were absolute powerhouses in this film.  I usually find Bale boring at best, and annoying most of the rest of the time, but he was fantastic here as the sad, washed-up, ex-boxer struggling with a tremendously destructive crack addiction.  AND, they even managed to work his freaky teeth right into the story (in the film, his teeth are all fake, having been knocked out one by one from years of punches to the jaw).

And Melissa Leo, wow.  I’d never noticed her in anything before, and it’s totally impossible not to notice her here.  Her character’s loyalty to her family was so strong I could feel it through the screen, and her inability to see the damage she was causing just by loving Micky as much as she did — unable to see reality through the blinding nature of her own hopes and dreams for her boys — felt extremely true.  Plus, the hair!  The accent!  The outfits!  So perfectly spot-on for a woman of that time and place. (In fact, all the hair made me laugh, having grown up in Rhode Island, where Aqua Net was practically distributed on street corners).

Overall, an excellent film, and one well worth watching.  Recommended!  Even if you don’t like face-punching and freaky teeth!

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Drama
Cast:  Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter


5 Responses to “MOVIE: The Fighter (2010)”

  1. marni Says:

    I don’t like Amy Adams either. I guess I haven’t seen her in anything but “Julia and Julie” or whatever that was but I felt like punching her in the face in that one (maybe how she got cast in THIS one!). Will get this one to watch thought on your recommendation, Megsie!!

  2. Don Says:

    Amy Adams and Mark Wahlberg were great, but thier roles in “The Fighter” was not as demanding as the roles of Melissa Leo and Christian Bale. Melissa and Christian are the greatest! They both won every acting award and capped it off at the Oscars. Regargless of whether or not you like boxing, everybody should see this movie which, I can assure you, is the true story of “Irish” Mickey Ward and his family. It is a family drama, but it actually happened. There will be a sequel which will cover Mickey Ward’s three (3) epic fights with Arturo Gatti. Do not miss it.

  3. Florence Says:

    THIS is the type of role that I like to see Chritian Bale in (John Conner not so much). And check out the HBO series “Treme” and movie Frozen River for some other good stuff from Melissa Leo.

  4. Liz Says:

    Amy Adams was in “Doubt.” she, and the movie were both very good! Of course, those Bronx accents that reminded me of my growing-up years didn’t hurt! I think I would like “The Fighter,” except that I kept getting cross when C. Bale kept beating out Geoffrey Rush for all those awards!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: