Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 2010. Closest To The Hole Productions, Fighter, Mandeville Films, The Park Entertainment, Relativity Media, The Weinstein Company. Story by Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington, Screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson. Cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema. Produced by Dorothy Aufiero, David Hoberman, Ryan Kavanaugh, Todd Lieberman, Paul Tamasy, Mark Wahlberg. Music by Michael Brook. Production Design by Judy Becker. Costume Design by Mark Bridges. Film Editing by Pamela Martin. Academy Awards 2010. American Film Institute 2010. Boston Film Critics Awards 2010. Golden Globe Awards 2010. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2010. National Board of Review Awards 2010. New York Film Critics Awards 2010. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2010. Washington Film Critics Awards 2010.
The last thing cinema needed was another boxing movie, and yet here is an unforgettable, instant classic that must be seen. Mark Wahlberg has been battling it in the ring for years with the help of his domineering mother (Melissa Leo) as manager and his once-successful, now has-been junkie brother (Christian Bale) training him. Having gotten nowhere with either of them at his side, Wahlberg decides to veer in the direction of a more devoted trainer thanks to the confidence of his new girlfriend (a surprisingly tough Amy Adams) behind him. What David O. Russell contributes with his scintillating direction to this heretofore well-known synopsis is what makes this film really zing: the tension between all these characters, what they want from each other and what they will take without asking, makes for more insane intensity outside the boxing ring than what goes on within. The scenes where Wahlberg gets to punching his opponents are a relief compared to the drama suffered by him as he tries to distance himself from his terrifying matriarch and his self-destructive brother. Based on the true story of Mickey Ward, the film is grounded by Wahlberg’s performance: bland and opaque, but also sincere, a relief of stillness amid all the insane charisma going on around him. There are fireworks whenever Leo is on screen, while Bale’s insanely accurate depiction of broken dreams gone berserk can be barely contained by the dimensions of the camera. Russell’s drive gives the film so much of its dramatic thrust, but there is also a lot of humour and, as a result of all these elements combined, an overwhelming sense of humanity that leads to a very moving finale. A masterpiece.