Review by Marc Berman
“The Fighter” is the true story of two brothers from Lowell, MA. Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale) is a former boxer that was called “The Pride of Lowell” and was said to have once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard. In recent years, Dickie has turned to using crack cocaine and becoming and unreliable trainer to his brother Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), who aspires to be a great boxer like Dickie. Mickey has become a laughing stock of the community after losing a fight in Atlantic City and considers leaving the company of his family (which also serves as his management) for the comfort of having the ability to be paid to train in Las Vegas. While Dickie is in prison for assaulting a police officer, Mickey is backed by a new crew and his girlfriend (Amy Adams) and he swears that he will never be involved with Dickie again, he goes on to win the fight and is offered the chance for a shot at the welterweight championship. While Dickie is in prison, HBO airs a documentary about him being a crack addict, and we see that he is embarrassed and strives to be clean. Upon being released from prison, will Mickey stick to his deal to not let Dickie and the family work with him again? Gonna have to see the film to find out.
The first word that comes to mind after watching this film is WOW and then WOW again. I have to say that I have not seen a better film in a long time. Christian Bale is completely incredible in every facet in this film, in my opinion, one of the best actors around today (if you haven’t seen “The Machinist” then I suggest you do). He digs down deep to bring out the persona of Dickie, this is one of the few performances that I really felt as if I was watching somebody else other than the actor, he is that good. Wahlberg is also fantastic and deserves some credit in his career, which he will continue to receive if he can pick up great roles like this one. It was nice to see Amy Adams as the rough-around-the-edges Charlene, she proves herself as a former Oscar nominee. I also thought that the role of Alice (Melissa Leo) who is the mother of the boys was a standout performance.
The realism is what really stood out for me, there wasn’t a moment where I had any doubt of what was going on. The “Southy” Boston accents were spot on; The closest thing in recent cinema would be to compare them to the incredible dialect work in Ben Affleck’s “The Town”, which was another of my favorites of 2010. Without doing any research, I think it is evident that the director chose to use local talent to lend to the realism of the film, this being most clear with the gaggle of Mickey and Dickie’s sisters…my guess is that they are from Lowell or the surrounding area.
Some random things I loved about “The Fighter”: Everywhere Alice went, she was chain smoking, it was so nasty and real that you could almost smell the stale cigarettes through the screen. The set decorators’ attention to detail is outstanding, from the ashtrays that are overflowing to the dirty furniture in the crack house.
The personalities and grit that is the working class Lowell, MA is captured well in “The Fighter”. Nominated for the Best Picture Golden Globe, I think that this film has a real “Fighting” chance. Go to the theater and watch it or if you are lucky enough to know someone who has a vote and has a “For your Consideration” screener, even better!
Directed by: David O. Russell
Release Date: December 17, 2010
Run Time: 117 minutes
Distributor: Mandeville Films