I recently saw The Fighter which is the latest film from director David O. Russell (3 Kings, I Heart Huckabees). Unaware of what to expect with this film, the only thing I thought I’d walk out applauding would have been Christian Bale’s performance but to my surprise at the film’s finish I found myself appreciating the many elements that this film was put together with.
I’ll dive in where I normally do and go right to the acting performances. One minute into the film I said to myself, Chrisitan Bale is an amazing actor. Bale plays Dicky Eklund, a drug addicted former boxer with hopes of returning to glory, and he almost disappears into this role. Bale attacks this character head on and delivers what is this year’s finest supporting actor role deserving of an Academy award nom and dare I say this early, a win. Melissa Leo, plays Dicky and Mickey Ward’s (played by Mark Wahlberg) mother, Alice Ward, and she too delivers a solid performance as the overbearing, eccentric matriarch. All the other performances were good as well, including Wahlberg as the film’s protagonist “Irish” Mickey Ward as well as Amy Adams as his love interest. The overall casting was very well done, especially for all the women who played Mickey’s sisters since they looked alike and played well off of Leo as her supportive band.
David O. Russell has developed a particular style as a storyteller and I was glad to see that he did not abandon this with The Fighter. The script was well crafted with witty dialogue and interesting character explorations. Russell allows the story to unfold with moments of comedic relief which are present in his other films. The film is accompanied by a roaring soundtrack which helps tell the story. The film seems a little “Hollywood” but that is forgivable given that this is a true story. “The Fighter” might not have been the best title for this movie given that it is barely about the actual fights Mickey has as a boxer; rather this is a character driven story about a man coming to terms with his life and loved ones in a struggle to emerge stronger through life experiences (so maybe “The Fighter” is a good title since he fights against many things…). Anyway, a good film and might be one of my frontrunners for best of the year given that it was tight in many respects.