When documenting a true tale through film it can be challenging to keep the audience engaged. Just like the protagonist, "The Fighter" overcomes any such hurdles. David O. Russell, along with his perfect star cast and talented script writers delivers a box office knock-out.
The brilliance lies in the manner of documentation. While following the sequence of Mickey “Irish” Ward’s life, O. Russell manages to maintain an air of mystery. He gives enough fodder to follow the story but unravels certain details later. Mickey at the age of 31 hadn’t won a single worthy title despite his talent. Trained by his idol and brother Dicky and with his mother (Melissa Leo) as Manager, he lives in the shadow of his brother’s legendary win against Sugar Ray in the boxing ring.
Entangled in the web of family, he gets pressurized into a losing and painfully embarrassing battle in the ring which was supposedly, his come back fight. The glaringly bad decision is the last straw and his frustration leads to a fall out with the two. Many relationships come into play during the course of the movie that influence Mickey. One of them being the girlfriend, played to raw, subtly crude perfection by Amy Adams.
Mickey’s equation with each one changes throughout, and the nuances have been captured without getting into unnecessary details. That’s what keeps you enraptured apart from Bale’s outstanding performance of course. The lengths which he has gone to for his physical appearance are evident, which aids the acting. But oh the acting! He maintains the goofiness of Dicky, with a pinch of remorse for his failure, through his crack-addiction and sober states, with his affection for family and boxing permanently evident.
Walberg certainly makes a good ‘Fighter’ but it’s his supporting cast that make Mickey and the movie a winner. As he struggles with emotions, injuries, crime and acceptance he grows to understand his needs and finally emerge out of the shadows.
The fact that its based on a true story doesn’t rob it of humour, which is effortlessly weaved in through dialogue and mannerisms or sometimes just a pregnant pause. Boxing is obviously omnipresent but what makes it different is that the whole package lends more dimension to the life of a boxer, other than that of just sheer passion.