Friday, 4 February 2011

An Oscar Nominated Boxing Movie? Finally, Something New!

It's nice to see that the well trodden path of the award winning boxing movie is not putting off screenwriters. Raging Bull, Rocky and Million Dollar Baby are all brilliant examples of how boxing movies can be done but what is new out there? The Fighter has decided to take on the subject matter by using a true story. And it does well.

The true story of two brothers, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older sibling, Dicky Eklund, (Christian Bale) in their quest to train Micky into a champion boxer. But it is not an easy path. With Micky falling in love with Charlene (Amy Adams) and Dicky's drug addiction putting him in jail, the family and training system fall apart. When an offer comes for Micky to start with a new manager at the cost of leaving his family behind at training, he takes it. The family don't take this well and a feud starts betwwen them and the new training team.

The ol' 'Look Over There' technique still worked.

The movie is fairly straight forward and a rather common premise. But it brings something new to the table. The characters. A family focused training team with strong tempered mother, Alice, (Melissa Leo) managing operations and extravagent, crack addicted Dicky trains Micky. With such strong representations of the characters, the story really comes alive. Dark, gritty, emotional and every now and then, very funny. With three acting nominations, you can see that the Academy enjoyed it. Best Supporting Actor and two nominations for Best Supporting Actress. With both Leo and Adams up for the acting gong, we can see there may be a bit of friendly competition coming up. In fairness, I think they may well be each other's biggest threat. (But I haven't seen True Grit so I won't make any final predictions yet.) Adams is brilliant as the tough but loving Charlene. She shows true caring for Micky but also true contempt for the rest of the family. Leo is stunning as the controlling, domineering mother. She, like Charlene, knows what she wants and she will put up a damn good fight to get it. Every emotion pours through both actresses: Love, fear, anger, joy, you name it, they do it. Both brilliant performances. If I had to decide who to give the Oscar to, I'd have to say Melissa Leo. She just has something that Adams lacks. The conviction.

The brilliant female performances aren't the only talking point. Our two lead males both throw in award worthy performances. Sadly, Wahlberg didn't get an Oscar nod, though he probably does deserve one. Unfortunately for him, he was the calm, collected character next to the larger than life Dicky. While he did a fantastic job, the Acadamy often overlook these perormances for the more enthusiastic and 'difficult' characters. He played the role brilliantly and that's what truely matters. Christian Bale, however, did cast Wahlberg's performance into a slight shadow. Throughout the film you notic how consistant he is and then at the end, we are greeted with a short clip of the real Dicky and Micky and we realise how spot on Bale was. Certainly worthy of the nomination, equally worthy of the gong.

Wanna reason to watch the movie ladies? There you go.

There are flashes of brilliance elsewhere. Out of no where came a brilliant little montage which was shot so well and also excellently edited. It took me by surprise. Also, the fights, shot with a really good representation of a sports show camera, are very well pieced together and again are filmed with brilliant camera work. It helps make the film real. And the direction is wonderful. Everything goes so well. Certainly not enough to get David O. Russell the Oscar I'd say. But it is very well done.

Overall a good movie. Definately worth a watch. You may laugh, you may cry but whatever you do, you will get attached to the movie. I would recommend it.

Best Bit? Some may say Amy Adams in just underwear, but I'll go with the uplifting montage of fights.

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