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The Fighter (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 114 minutes.

Not for children.

Whatís amazing about this film, based on the true story of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky (Christian Bale), is that under the end credits is a film of the real Micky and the real Dicky. Bale is a carbon copy of the real Dicky, even down to his mannerisms.

Shot in 33 days in Lowell, Mass., Micky is the younger brother of Dicky, who are the sons of Alice (Melissa Leo), a Łber-controlling woman who manages her sonís boxing career, poorly. Dicky is a crack cocaine addict who once floored Sugar Ray Leonard. Micky has approximately 7 sisters, all of whom just sit around and expect Micky to support them. It is a family from hell.

Micky falls for a bartender, Charlene (Amy Adams), who exerts an influence on Micky to divorce from the strings of his family and go out on his own.

I consider boxing an anachronistic remnant from Roman gladiators who fought to the death in front of bloodthirsty crowds. As a result, I detest most movies about boxing. But this isnít your typical boxing movie. Itís really a character study. Bale gives a once-in-a-lifetime performance as Dicky, and his performance is the one you will remember. But the test of a terrific actor is one who can give a performance that is believable and fits into the story but that you donít necessarily remember because you donít realize he is acting. That describes Wahlberg, Adams, and Leo, all of whom deserve awards nominations.

For Amy Adams fans, there is a lot more of her displayed in this film than has been seen before. Itís not only her acting that is eye-popping.

Tightly directed by David O. Russell from a script (Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson), this captures the gritty atmosphere of lower middle class Massachusetts.

Russell succumbed to the temptation of most sports movies of making the sounds of the fights unrealistically loud, which results in one wondering how anybody can stand up after being hit by just one of the blows that sound so devastating. In real life, boxers donít make these kinds of sounds.

Thatís a minor criticism that is applicable to almost all sports movies, and itís not enough to detract from the excellence of this film, which is clearly one of the best of the year regardless of how you feel about boxing.