Directed by David O. Russell. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo.
Based on a true story of Micky Ward and his older brother-trainer Dicky and set in the 80s, The Fighter is more family feuding than boxing ring drama but delivers the knock-out nevertheless.
Christian Bale’s been nominated in this one for Best Supporting Actor and the buzz is he’s gonna get it. After watching The Fighter you can see why. His physical and mental transformation for the role is akin to his drastic turn in The Machinist. As Dicky, the older crack head brother and former welterweight champion of the world, his job is to train young half bro Micky (Wahlberg) to be a pro and keep up the family name. Mother Alice – played powerfully by Best Supporting Actress nominee Melissa Leo – turns a blind eye to Dicky’s ‘habit’ and vociferously defends his right to train Micky, even when Dicky can barely get himself out of his regular haunt, the crack house. And even when a TV channel was making a documentary on him, which he proudly tells everyone. Little realising it is about the drug addiction.
Mark Wahlberg’s film has been in the making for a while now and that he has been magnanimous in sharing screen space with a phenomenal talent like Bale is commendable. Wahlberg as the reluctant fighter, being torn between his family and Charlene, the girl he loves (Adams) and not knowing if the ring is his calling, is understated and powerful in his own way. You can so sympathise with him being caught between his dictatorial mother and his possessive girlfriend! His love for brother Dicky is evident as he jumps to his rescue time and again but ultimately he realises that balance in all things is the trick to success. And courage out of the ring is just as important as it is inside.
What’s lacking from the film is a stirring background score, memorable fight sequences and a rousing finale. This is no Rocky mind you. The real punches come outside the arena (the fight scene between Charlene and Micky’s half-a-dozen sisters is cheer-worthy) and that’s where the real battle is fought and won.