The Fighter David O. Russell

The Fighter David O. Russell
Early on in The Fighter, junior welterweight boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) takes his high-jumping, bartending girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams) to an art cinema to see Belle Époque for their first date. He states that he heard "Belle Epicue" was supposed to be good, which Charlene then corrects, stating, "I think it's just pronounced Bell Epic." Walking out of the theatre, she remarks, "There wasn't even any good sex and I had to read the whole fuckin' thing." The implication is clear: The Fighter is announcing itself as unpretentious, a film for the people, which, coming from the director of I ♥ Huckabees, is an amusing assertion, to say the least. To be fair, mercurial director David O. Russell tries his damnedest to make this white trash true story of boxing brothers Micky and Dicky Ward (Christian Bale) as authentic as possible, using handheld cameras and cramming Melissa Leo into bargain store tights, using enough Aqua Net on the cast to support the hairspray industry single-handedly for a decade. Bale's animated, deluded portrayal of an ex-athlete gone crack addict rings of pained desperation and overcompensation, giving a disheartening "real" vibe to the borderline mockery of low income, uneducated archetypes. And while the characters are interacting, with Dicky screwing up all of Micky's opportunities at success, this familial treatise hits its high notes, showing talented actors at the top of their game, working with each other and their characters in a wholly compelling manner. It's just when the film steps back to its story necessities, such as Micky's boxing career, it becomes middling, which is mostly due to Russell's bland, out-of-place direction and unremarkable handling of overly protracted fight sequences. What's more is that the message of the family bond feels somewhat tacked on and strained, reaching for some unifying theme where there is really just good acting and a mediocre biopic story. The DVD includes a commentary track with Russell, who mainly discusses working with the actors and the long process of getting the film made, which is reiterated in the half-hour "making of," which spends a lot of time on Mark Wahlberg's workout routine, because it's easier to work on the outside of yourself than the inside. (Alliance)