Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Fighter

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (L) Roger Ebert (2 stars) Fr. Dennis (4 stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert’s Review -

In a remarkably spare year when it comes to movies and performances deserving of Academy Award nominations The Fighter is a movie destined to boast a sackload of them. Let’s count them:

(1) For Best Picture (goes without saying)
(2) David O. Russell for Best Director (a first for him but again goes without saying)
(3) Scott Silver and Paul Tamasay for Best Screenplay (once more, goes without saying)

(4) Mark Wahlberg for Best Actor, playing the role of Mickey “Irish” Ward of Lowell, MA struggling for a shot at making a career of welter-weight boxing despite poverty, lack of options and horrible family disfunction

(5) Christian Bale, a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor (if not _also_ for Best Actor) playing the role of Mickey’s older and troubled brother “Dickey,” whose claim to fame as the “Pride of Lowell” was that he _may_ have knocked down boxing Legend Sugar Ray Leonard in a fight.

(6) Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress, playing a Lowell, MA barmaid, who was once “a contender” herself with a scholarship to U.R.I. for track and field (high jump) but who had blown-it through too much partying at school and who becomes Mickey’s girlfriend during the course of the story.

(7) Finally there’s also Melissa Leo who’s also a virtual shoe-in for Best Supporting Actress playing Mickey’s chain-smoking and (in the past) very fertile mom, who insists on being Mickey’s micro-managing boxing manager.

The Fighter is probably the best of a steady stream of excellently written stories coming out of blue collar Massachusetts in recent years. Again let’s count them - Mystic River (2003), The Departed (2006), The Town (2010), Conviction (2010) and now The Fighter (2010). Add to them other recent blue collar themed movies (some already recent classics) made by Clint Eastwood on the West Coast - Million Dollar Baby (2004), Grand Torino (2008), The Changeling (2009), and even Hereafter (2010) and one sees “a trend” and a good one. These hardhitting and often painful stories are told and hopefully (with time) will be heard. The arts are often prophetic. Cumulatively, these movies express a lot of pain and betrayal being experienced on mainstreet in America. The pain is certainly there. The question becomes, what will become the response to this pain both at home and abroad.

Will non-Americans, for instance, come to see Americans as being far closer to them than they previously thought? Certainly The Fighter could have been set in almost any industrial city in the world – Gdansk / Kladno / Novosibirsk, Manchester / Liverpool, Monterrey / Sao Paulo / Bel Horizonte, Manila / Shangai or Bengalore and still ring very, very true.

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