Year of release: 2010
Director: David O. Russell
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Mickey O'Keefe, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter, Erica McDermott, Jill Quigg, Dendrie Taylor, Kate B. O'Brien, Jenna Lamia, Alison Folland
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8
David O. Russell is a director who has thus far managed to create a very interesting career, directing films that are personal, even if sometimes a bit flawed. After the debacle that was "I Heart Huckabees" (with his aggressive rants with Lilly Tomlin hitting YouTube) and the problems surrounding "Nailed" (who is still waiting completion and release), Russell decided to tackle the true story of Mickey Ward, a boxer, in a film made with a very small budget (and his third collaboration with star/producer Mark Wahlberg). The film follows the story of Mickey Ward and his family, brother Dicky Eklund, his mom Alice and his sisters. Mickey is a boxer, much like his older brother Dicky, who is now his trainer (while his mom works as his manager). Dicky had his moment of glory some years ago and is now a pale shadow of his former self, always doing drugs and involved in schemes that land him in prison. Mickey on the other hand realizes that for him to have a final shot at reaching something as a fighter he has to navigate his life outside of his destructive family ties. Mickey with the aide of his girlfriend Charlene, manages to start climbing with victories in successive combats.
David O. Russell managed to create with "The Fighter" one of his best films. The screenplay itself is not much different than any boxing film ever done, however Russell manages to infuse the film with an air of authenticity, almost documentary, that gives the story a breath and an energy that are gripping. Most of the film's strength lie in the actors, and this film packs a great punch in that department. Mark Wahlberg does a good job, underacting and making his Mickey a humble and strong person vying for a last chance. Amy Adams shows her range as a person with a strength and character that are truly admirable, but the film really belongs to Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Christian Bale disappears beneath the character he's creating, showing the vulnerable side of someone who knows his chance has gone by, someone broken by life and by drugs. Melissa Leo also creates a matriarch with a strength that is ferocious, even to her own children. A great film, worth watching.