Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Strong Silent Type

Although The Fighter has garnered mostly positive reviews it has received its fair share of criticisms. One that stands out as a negative is Mark Walhlberg's performance. Roger Ebert complains that the leading role is too subtle and that the other performances from Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams shadow Marky Mark's. Well isn't that the point. Micky Ward is repressed by everyone around him, his brother, mother and girlfriend sorry Ebert if Mickey isn't as charming as Rocky Balboa or as complex as Jake La Motta. Why should we need an electrifying performance from Wahlberg if it doesn't coencide with the actual story. To be honest I find Micky Ward's simplicity, innocence and vulnerability to be refreshing. 

I put off seeing The Fighter for a good while, even though I loved the trailer, I was expecting it to be your run of the mill rags to riches boxing movie, and it is that, but it is also excellently made. The opening scene in the Lowell neighbourhood is big opener that follows Micky and brother Dicky as they mess fight and converse with everybody on the street. It is a strong opening that leaves you expecting big things and it doesn't let you down.

Even though David O. Russell has delivered a great drama, he has also given audiences a very funny film. Most of the hilarity comes from Dicky's actions and reactions. His facial expressions are fantastic, and an example of a subtle funny expression is when it is announced to Micky and Dicky that Micky's new opponent is fresh from jail- Dicky's face lights up with excitement for a quick second. The family, Micky's mother, stepfather and 200 sisters convey most of the other humorous lines. However one of the funniest scenes of the movie is when Micky is at his most vulnerable, when he takes Charlene to a foreign art movie so he won't be seen by the locals and have to deal with his shame publicly. 

Bales performance is great here, its funny, sad and sometimes frightening and regardless if he receives and Oscar for it, it is in my opinion the best supporting role of the year. The opening scene set the audience up for a riveting tale and the end of the movie during Micky's championship bout has the viewer on the edge of their seat. It is the greatest portrayal of a an enthralling sports atmosphere that has ever been filmed I believe. I might be forgetting something else, but until I remember, I will stand by that. It was such a great cinema experience during those last 15-20 minutes of the movie and you really want Micky to win as if it were your favourite boxer, football, rugby, basketball etc... team.

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