My goal to see every Oscar nominated film before the ceremony is seeming very unlikely thanks to me being a student. Either way, I went to the cinema last night to see a film I’ve been dying to see more than any of the other Oscar nominations, The Fighter. I’d heard great things about this film and about all the performances in it but I still went in with my no expectation view on the film. About ten minutes in, I realised that Christian Bale was amazing; it took only ten minutes for that to kick in.
A look at the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s.
This film is based on the true story of Micky Ward, the younger, cast-into-the-shadows brother of Dicky Eklund who knocked Sugar Ray Leonard down when he was in his prime and that was his last professional fight. Dicky Eklund is deluded to the concept that he can still make a comeback and so is his mother, Alice Ward - played by Melissa Leo. Although they claim that this is all about Micky and family but really it’s about having money and so Dicky can build himself back up to be a champion yet again. There is no bias in the family, according to Alice, but there blatantly is. Dicky is the star child of this dysfunctional family since he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, the crack addicted star child that is.
The direction of the film is pretty much perfect. The film pulls you in as if you’re a helpless family member in this chaos and you get fully immersed in such a helpless manner that you want to put Micky Ward’s family in their place.
That being said, this can be quite funny at times. Weird as it is, you like the crack-addicted brother who’s selfish in his thoughts. The way he moves, talks and just acts with a brash of never ending arrogance makes you like him instead of despising his pathetic self. While the film will have you laughing, it will also send you into a spiral of different emotions and the most common one I had was frustration at the fact that Micky was getting ignored so easily. Any film that sucks you in so easily is incredible.
I noticed that Mark Wahlberg was robbed of a nomination. I haven’t seen Biutiful so I can’t comment on Javier Bardem’s performance but all I know is that Mark Wahlberg was ignored purely because he kept it all together. He didn’t have the loud, skinny addict brother but the level-headed one who has always stayed in the shadow of his half-brother Dicky Eklund. He was Micky Ward and he really performed in an outstanding manner. I still believe that Mark Wahlberg is an incredibly underrated actor ever since I saw him in Fear, Three Kings and Four Brothers; he’s just made some wrong decisions about what film to act in really. We can’t forget about the train-wreck of The Happening and the painfully bad but beautiful (cinematography wise) Max Payne. Maybe they’re punishing him for those? Hopefully, this’ll lead to him actually doing more great films again.
Christian Bale’s portrayal of a crack-addict who can’t let go of former glories like a nostalgic grandfather who rambles on about how society used to be and how he used to work his socks off for a mere tuppence is far too convincing. His performance is the most talked about but for a reason. He takes in a lot of the attention with his character who hogs the limelight from his brother, and that’s what Christian Bale does in this film. He takes centre stage from an incredible Mark Wahlberg just like their characters.
Amy Adams’s (yes, it is s’s, google it) “sexy-bitch” character - as described by David O. Russell - is an incredible all-round performance. From the rude but comical way she introduces herself to Alice Ward to the fight thanks to an “MTV girl” insult from one of the seven haggard sisters, Amy Adams shows she can do it all and shouldn’t be type-cast. Even though she’s now at the age of thirty-six she still looks in her mid 20s so hopefully we’ll see more from her. From the silly-but-hilarious Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to the probably awful (haven’t seen it) Enchanted, Amy Adams can do it all; and she really wants to be seen as a sexy dominating girl who will fight and voice her opinion. Amy Adams deserves an Oscar for this role and her ability to diversify herself.
Another great performance from the near-perfect cast is Melissa Leo’s manager/mother depiction of Alice Ward. A terrifying, controlling mother of nine children but puts her Dicky on a pedestal that no one can eclipse. The Oscar nomination is deserved and if she won it then there’d be no complaints from anyone but I still think that Amy Adams deserves it.
There is only one complaint on my part and that is annoying Boston actress, Jill Quigg, who can’t act and annoyed me with her brief performance in Ben Affleck’s directorial début, Gone Baby Gone, and now this. Just because her Boston accent is incredibly strong doesn’t mean she has to be cast. She also looks like her face has folded in on itself and that’s not something you want to see from an emotionless and monotonous actress.
To summarise, this film is for everyone. It’s a fantastic, if not clichéd, storyline of the underdog but that doesn’t matter since it’s true. Nothing about this story seems unoriginal and David O. Russell has created what I deem to be one of the best films I’ve seen. From the authenticity of the fight scenes (by using the real HBO cameras) to the authenticity of every single character who made this film a believable spectacle which almost makes you shout in anger and cheer in happiness along.
I’ve decided to adopt the “star system”: ★★★★★