‘The Fighter’: More than a mere boxing film (IANS Film Review, Rating: ****)

February 27th, 2011 - 3:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Christian Bale By Satyen K. Bordoloi
Film: “The Fighter”; Director: David O. Russell; Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams; Rating: ****Hollywood has done endless sports films, of rising against the odds. One of the most popular sub-genre in this is boxing films. In this over populated field, is there a possibility for doing something new?

As “The Fighter” shows, there indeed is.

Micky Ward is a boxer who is no more in his prime and is more like a stepping stone for bigger boxers. The reason for this is his family, especially his brother Dicky, a crack addict who, as a former boxer, is also his trainer.

After a brawl caused by Dicky almost causes Micky to lose his hand and land Dicky in prison, Micky decides to take life in his own hands. When Dicky returns, now reformed, Micky does not want him. But can the two brothers really stay separate.

The family - the greatest source of strength and support for an individual, can also become his weakness. And that is what Mickey faces. But if the family comes together once again, an individual can achieve anything.

Thus, while “Rocky” was about an individual pushing himself to the top, “Raging Bull” about a self-destructive boxer pulling himself down, “Cinderella Man” about the interference of politics and economics, “The Fighter” is the fight of an entire family that touches rock bottom only to stand by each other and emerge stronger.

Hence, though the main protagonist is Micky, the story is really not about him. It is more Dicky’s story, the crack addict who is an embarrassment not just to the family but to the entire town. It is not whether Micky can do it, but whether Dicky can improve himself because often a family is as strong as its weakest member.

The uneasy relationship of a family with each other, is one of the most soaring achievements of “The Fighter”. And this is exactly what moves the film from the realms of being a mere boxing film, to becoming a soaring family film that will stay relevant through the ages.

Christian Bale soars in his portrayal of a delusional addict Dicky. The performance could have gone over the top for an actor with lesser skills. But Bale’s delicate handling of a man who rises from his own ashes is deserving of an Oscar, something that can also be said of director David O. Russell who is also up for best director Oscar.

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