David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckbee’s) is one of my favorite directors. He has a great knack for pulling strong performances out of actors. Amidst the most emotionally charged scenes about serious subject matter, he somehow has a way to make you laugh without losing the focus of that scenes specific purpose. The Fighter exemplifies these strengths better than any of his previous films.
The Fighter tells the true story of the rising ’80s boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg, The Departed) and his crackhead brother, former boxer and coach Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale, The Dark Knight). Dicky’s poor life decisions cause Mickey to take a step back and reevaluate his plan to reach the big leagues.
Much like Black Swan, the less you know about The Fighter, the better off you will be when you see it. Everything that happens in The Fighter can easily be found on Google, but if you don’t know Mickey Ward’s unique true story, save it for the film.
You can expect to see four actor nominations come from The Fighter – Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams (Enchanted) and Melissa Leo (Conviction). Adams plays Mickey’s tough, out-spoken girlfriend. As always, she will win you over. There aren’t many actresses that can be classified as “cute” even when playing trashy roles. Leo plays Mickey and Dickey’s bossy manager mother. Just as she did in Conviction and Frozen River, Leo dominates her scenes. There is no reason why hers shouldn’t be a household name when discussing great actors.
Like previously mentioned, even though The Fighter delves into darker material than you might expect, it remains inspiring and hopeful. It’s got heart, laughs, tangible intensity and even genuine tenderness. The Fighter is a well-rounded meaty film void of any filler.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures