>we’re all fighters

Posted on May 14, 2011

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let me just say right off the bat that i’m not a particularly huge fan of boxing movies, or movies centred around sport generally. i believe we can all, to some degree, relate to the protagonist who rises beyond all expectation and belief to stand toe to toe with his biggest obstacle, slug it out, and win. this is why i think boxing movies get one over on most other sports movies – the fight!
for me a ‘boxing’ movie works best when the story being told is putting more of the emphasis on the characters than on the sport itself. million dollar baby, crying fist and raging bull do this tremendously.
which brings me to ‘the fighter’. this is a movie based on a true story. now from what i’ve read it’s pretty accurate – so far as the action in the ring and the background of the characters and the setting are concerned. that’s a good start, as most movies ‘based on a true story’ generally bear little semblance to the ‘true story’ from which they originate.
the big names in this movie are bale and wahlberg, as dicky and micky [i kid you not!].
there are certain actors who i really enjoy watching on screen, and among them is christian bale. the guy’s a marvel to watch, and here we have another incredible, memorable role from him. at first i thought he was being really ott as micky’s twitchy crack addicted trainer, but having seen footage of the real dicky, he’s actually pretty spot on. unfortunately i’m not a huge fan of wahlberg, i think he’s ok(ish) as an actor and this movie does nothing to change my opinion of his talents. he seems unable to muster up an expression that doesn’t involve frowning, which this role [fortunately] requires him to do a lot.
the movie is basically a biopic of micky’s struggle to become a successful boxer and to win the welterweight championship bout. but it’s actually more about his struggle to break free of the shackles of his overbearing mother/manager, his genius but very destructive brother/trainer, and the lack of self-belief in his own boxing ability.
alas, it can also be viewed with bale’s character as the main protagonist, with the fight being his road to a life worth living. a realisation that he is destroying himself, and that this is not the life he really wants to live. ultimately he wants to be the best mentor his brother could have but has demons of his own to defeat. dicky knows that unless he’s in micky’s corner – he will struggle against his opponents.
for me bale’s story arc was far more interesting than wahlberg’s, but both worked well together. the supporting roles are also wonderfully realised – girlfriend amy adams, playing a take-no-messing barmaid called charlene, wants for a better life, but is living with the results of some bad decisions. the boys’ mother, alice, has their best interests at heart, but lives by the statement “don’t trust no-one who ain’t family.”, and the 7 big-haired bitchy sisters!
the boxing aspect is pretty standard – the rise from underdog to champion, etc etc. the gloved up fights are good but not amazing. but this movie revolves more around the dramatic encounters of the family than it does the fights. the people here who should be loving and supporting each other are doing nothing of the sort, and it’s this that gives the movie it’s real strength – its heart, especially when things begin to go right… when they begin to forgive each other. this is when it becomes truly powerful.
we have all and probably will in our own lives find obstacles that we feel we cannot [and in many ways do not] want to acknowledge and tackle. there are fights that we feel we cannot win, that will destroy us. the reality is that sometimes in order to move forward we need to find ourselves at rock bottom.
now, we can choose to just lie there – defeated and broken, or we can look to our corner, and with the help of god, our family, and our friends… we can overcome the worst that life can throw at us.
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