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Based on the rise of junior welterweight title winner Micky Ward, THE FIGHTER is a heartfelt tale of two brothers (One on the way up and one on the way down) that is both humorous and tragic and always entertaining.
Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale) once a contender who knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard during a fight has been living off his glory days. But he is a drug addict and has been in and out of jail, unable to get his life back on track.
But you wouldn’t know it, as his mother Alice (Melissa Leo) and seven sisters fawn over him, enabling him to live in a fantasy world. Unfortunately Micky (Mark Wahlberg) gets the short end and lives under his brother’s already shaky shadow.
Micky begins a relationship with Charlene (Amy Adams), a local bartender and soon realizes that his family has been holding him back and not acting in his best interests. Caught in the middle, Micky has to make some tough decisions if he’s going to break out and rise to his full potential as a pugilist before it passes him by.
Director David O. Russell does a great job bringing out the authenticity of the milieu. It might seem heightened to the uninitiated, but having grown up in a suburb of Boston, his portrayal of Lowell, MA and its denizens is eerily familiar.
The performances are excellent, as you would expect from the top-notch cast. Leo won a Best Supporting Actress Award but it’s Bale (who won for Best Supporting Actor) who really steals the movie. Once again going through a physical transformation, Bale brings Dicky to life and allows the audience to understand the psychology of what makes this troubled man tick.
An atypical film about a brutal sport, THE FIGHTER focuses more on the family and the relationships than the actual matches and is certainly one of the greats of the sports genre.