Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Man on Film: The Fighter

Do not take the fact that it has taken me over a month to write this as an indicator of how I felt about this film. In short, I loved The Fighter. Call me a sucker for sports movies if you would like to--the label may be apt--but David O. Russell's newest teaming with Mark Wahlberg, just leaves me excited for their fourth team-up, an adaptation of the video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune*. 

*While the game is pretty awesome, I for one am a bit leery about a video game adaptation. According to the article above Wahlberg states
The idea that [Russell] has is just insane. So hopefully we’ll be making that movie this summer.
I know Max Payne (and well, just about every other video game movie, for that matter) sucked, but this is David O. Russell we're talking about here. 

In The Fighter, Wahlberg stars as the mismanaged boxer, Micky Ward, whose career has been undermined by his brother and mother. He has been exploited by a family that has been leeching off of him for years. His brother, Dicky Eklund, is played by Christian Bale, who has rightfully been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the upcoming Oscars. Dicky is a crackhead who has slipped into the gutter. Once, he had a shot at the belt against Sugar Ray Leonard, but he has ceded control of his life to addiction.

Melissa Leo (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Treme) plays his mother/manager, Alice Ward, who treats Micky as her meal ticket as much as her son and has a blind spot for her fuck-up of a son, Dicky. Both she and Amy Adams have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for their turns. Adams plays Micky's sassy bartender girlfriend Charlene Fleming, who pushes him to look out for himself rather than continuing to put his dysfunctional and selfish family before his own needs.

As with really any David O. Russell film, The Fighter is primarily character-driven. This is clearly Russell's bread-and-butter. Yes, the stories are ineresting for the most part, but his films' success owe largely to their performances. This is no exception. The characters are vivid and flawed. Across the board, David O. Russell manages to get full realization of these characters from his actors, especially from Bale and Leo, both of whom disappear into their characters.

Speaking in purely narrative terms, this film bears a strong resemblance to Rocky. This is not a bad thing. It doesn't feel derivative. They are different films. Where Rocky Balboa is on his own in Rocky, Micky Ward is hindered by his family. There is also the mob element that is not present in The Fighter. Ultimately, though it is about an extreme underdog who had been down on their luck, who gets a shot at the belt and shows well.

On an emotional level, it seems impossible to me that you would not be drawn in. It is hard not to root for Micky. Coming out of the movie, both Mark and I were pumped up beyond belief. Even with some asshole lady behind me (I actually had to raise a card at the Alamo for the first time ever--and this was after telling her to "shut the fuck up" twice), I was thoroughly engrossed and invested in Micky's success/failure.

Again, maybe I'm a whore for sports movies, but The Fighter was great, easily one of my five favorite movies from this Oscar year.

5 comments:

Young Man Duggan said...

I do recall you absolutely loving "Johnny Be Good", "We Are Marshall" and "Rollerball" way more than I thought warranted...

Josh Duggan said...

Hilarious.

Sadly, I've never seen either of the Rollerballs or Johnny Be Good.

McConaughey wears his shirt way too much in We Are Marshall which I don't really remember at all.

Big Hatt said...

I'd say you must be a sports movie whore. I liked the Fighter, but pumped up I was most definitely not. I thought the lead character kind of sucked, actually.

Video game movie that was good: Doom. Just kidding. I actually did like Final Fantasy: Advent Children though. I should probably stop telling people that.

Josh "Old Man" Duggan said...

@ Big Hatt - Yeah, you might want to keep that one to yourself...

Young Man Duggan said...

best line of the movie...

"What kind of dog is that? A cocker spaniel?"

But I told you that already.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...