The Fighter is a 2010 biographical boxing movie about the life of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky (Christian Bale).
It is a ferocious movie, sometimes violent, other times funny. And ultimately, it is a movie about the values of family more than anything else. In their tightly-knit community of Lowell, Massachusetts, the people who are cheering this fighter are ultimately the same people holding him back. And regardless of the many boxing games that you will get to see and the many adrenaline-pumping moments you will sit through, this is a movie that is sentimental. It is the story of a man, whose occupation happens to be bloody, and his quest to find himself: failed marriage, career going bad and a messed up family… this is his quest to make something out of his life. The family conflicts in this movie are even bloodier than the battles of the ring and ultimately much more interesting to watch.
The mother, played by the brilliant Melissa Leo, is running a matriarchy. Their father figure is weak to say the least. Melissa Leo, the current frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actress race at this year’s Oscars, immerses herself in her character immensely that at times you think they got this woman from some grocery store, taught her the lines and threw her in the movie. She embodies Ward’s mother in a real way that is also raw and haunting.
Christian Bale, the frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actor race, as Micky’s older half-brother Dicky, is the bad brotherly influence that you cannot escape – and ultimately always seek to impress. He used to be a hotshot boxer as well but lost it all in a spiral descent filled with drugs and whatnot. He wants to resurrect his career through his brother and in doing so, Christian Bale really shines. The sunken-eyed, pale and thin character he portrays is done so well at times that his performance is scary.
Amy Adams, as Micky’s girlfriend Charlene, is also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards. I believe Amy Adams is one of the best new talents to come to Hollywood and this movie is yet another vehicle for her to further cement this belief. She is gorgeous, as usual, and plays the supporting girlfriend who wants to protect Micky from his own family in a raw, gut-wrenching manner. You can’t help but like her in the movie. And she is my favorite in the Best Supporting Actress race, albeit not the favorite to win.
Mark Wahlberg’s performance is low-key compared to his costars. And it’s precisely that which makes it really good. His subdued performance is the equivalent of his character. And as his voice gets stronger throughout the movie, so does his character’s. This low-key performance also symbolizes his internal struggle between staying faithful to his family and his responsibility towards himself.
All in all, The Fighter is another must see. And if you think all my reviews are ultimately about must see movies, it’s because 2010 has delivered movies of such a high caliber that not watching them would be, ultimately, a disgrace to the art of movie-making.