Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Fighter

The Fighter
The Fighter is the best film, so far, of 2011. I am yet to see True Grit  but I don’t think it could top this masterpiece of cinema. Friends and family had praised the film, and even before it came out I was excited. It was only until last week when I got to see it, in the deluxe screening room of Cineworld, and it just blew me away. The story, script, acting and direction are fantastic. Everything about this film is amazing and certainly deserves the various nominations and the critical acclaim. Director David O Russell has been relatively unheard of in mainstream cinema. The only other films that I remember him directing were the acceptable Three Kings. However, that was released back in 1999. And I Heart Huckabees, which was another average film, but it is The Fighter which really shows his talent as a director. 
The Fighter follows the professional life of boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), but also focuses on his relationship with his older brother Dick Eklund (Christian Bale) and their family, in particular their mother, Alice (Melissa Leo). The ‘Ward family’ are a close knit ‘community’, that just want the best for Micky, in their own way. But when a romantic relationship builds between Micky and bartender Charlene ( Amy Adams), he truly realises the nature of his family; Dick has become a crack addict, his mother and his sisters despise his love for the ‘invasive’ Charlene. A ‘tug of war’ develops between the two sides, in which Micky has no idea what he wants. 
It is important to note that while this is a biographical film about boxing, it isn’t a boxing film. I’ve heard many say ‘its about boxing, I hate boxing’, and then talk about on the endless rubbish Rocky sequels (expect 3) and how they have tainted their image of boxing films. While I admit I am no fan of the Rocky Series, and of the sport in general, there have been some great films surrounding boxing; Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby. The Fighter is another to add to this list.  I was really agitated that the film was being advertised with: ‘It’s the best boxing film since Rocky’, because the rubbishy magazine, most likely Heat, had missed the entire point and focus of the film. This is not to suggest that there isn’t any boxing. There are numerous scenes of Wahlberg in the ring, but they were well-executed and never came across as intrusive or hindrances to the film. These scenes were filmed using the actual cameras used back in the 90s to film sport events, so they had a real authentic feel to them.
The true premise and focus of The Fighter’s is showing Micky and his relationship between his family and his relationship with Charlene. As explained before, the film really pushes this idea of a ‘tug of war’. His family on one side, and Charlene and his step-father on the other, while Micky is in the middle. One scene in particular that showed the complex relationship between Micky and his family, was when Alice and her daughters arrive at Charlene’s apartment. Abuse and threats are being hurled between Alice’s ‘crew’ and Charlene. It was terrifying to see the emotional hatred between the two sides. Then, CATFIGHT!!, but it is one of the most brutal ones I’ve ever seen, with Charlene breaking one of the sisters’ noses. Yet, Micky remains in a conflict between what to do. Does he follow his mother? or Charlene? It really shows the ‘war’ between the characters and the effect on Micky. His relationship between Dick and himself is very complex. On one hand, Dick told him everything about boxing, and still remains his true inspiration for entering the sport. But after various incidents with the law and Dick’s growing addiction, the brotherly relationship is weakening. David Russell, the writers and the cast, truly make these powerful and dramatic relationships the centre of the story. And they pull it off, forming some of the most engrossing scenes in recent cinema. I really cared for the characters and that’s what a film should evoke in an audience. 
The drama created within The Fighter would only be possible by an amazing cast. And this is where the film truly shines. Christian Bale, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Role thoroughly deserves his award. Though he says that he isn’t a method actor, his talent to truly grasp a role given to him is amazing. Physically, he has toned down from his recent roles as Batman, but not to the grotesque state of The Machinist. Yet, it is really surprising to see him transform from this hulking masked vigilante to a crack addict. His scrawny appearance, fidgety body language, mixed with a unpredictable personality truly made the addiction side to his character seem very realistic. Bale’s delivery and presence really give a uniqueness to his character, that whilst entering the wrongs of society, still remained charming and engrossing. After the final scene, the credits role and there is a small segment of film with the actual two brothers talking about the Micky’s success. What was truly amazing was to actually see how very similar Bale’s performance and the real Dick Eklund were. He really nailed it. 
Melissa Leo also gave an Oscar winning performance. She played Alice Ward, the mother of both the fighters. She comes across as a mental individual, with some serious emotional problems. It is truly scary that in one scene she’s the stereotypical caring mother, then we see her really shows her true aggressive and serious personality. Alice clearly wants the best for both Micky and Dick. But she suffers from emotional pain when she finds out about the extent of Dick’s addiction and Micky getting a new manager. I felt sympathetic towards Leo’s character in these scenes . But then felt a hatred towards her because of her attitude towards Charlene and the endless ploys and excuses to get Micky back. Melissa Leo pulls a magnificent performance that whilst seems villainous on the surface, has a certain humanity to her. She truly deserves her award.  
Amy Adams is also fantastic in the film, and really pulls off the character of Charlene. She plays Micky’s sexy love interest and moral advisor/ supporter, who really develops Micky’s character. She really has a strong personality that has the ability to stand against his family, whilst also showing her romantic and caring nature. Mark Wahlberg’s acting was surprisingly good. However, his previous work never left a good impression on his acting ability. Max Payne, Shooter and Planet of the Apes are films that failed to show his ‘acting’ ability, as well as being terrible. But I’m glad he really proved his talent in The Fighter, seen as though he is playing the main character. His deliver and performance was great. To be honest, the rest of the cast were fantastic. There wasn’t an actor/ actress that failed to impress. 
Gritty and very emotional, The Fighter has a fantastic story that is brilliantly portrayed by the cast, the writing and the director. While Inception took my personal favourite of 2010, The Fighter truly surprised and left me in awe. It is my 2011 film of the year, so far, and should have taken Best Picture at the Oscars. But I haven’t seen The Kings Speech so that could be debated later. The Fighter is a masterpiece of recent cinema. Its got heart, its got soul and it is bloody amazing. 

1 comment:

  1. Great review, I loved this film. The acting was amazing!