The Fighter

Good boxing movie, great family drama. A Greek tragedy. Mark Wahlberg plays real-life folk hero “Irish” Micky Ward as the hometown hero being pimped out to the boxing world by his manager mother and his crack-addled trainer brother and former local boxing legend, Dickie Eklund. Like many of the Boston-area films directed or produced by Walberg or Ben Affleck, it looks, feels and smells authentically like the urban cities and forgotten suburban-urban towns that one thinks of as the rough-and-tumble turfs of “Boston.” Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), who plays the mother of both Micky and Dickie, and Amy Adams (“Julie and Julia”), playing Micky’s girlfriend give such authentic and powerful performances that it’s hard to believe they are not the people whose characters they inhabit. Their performances particularly moved me. And while Christian Bale’s performance as Dickie is unforgettable as well, his oddly layered British-Boston accent calls too much attention to itself as did all the squirrelly mannerisms. I wish I could say that Wahlberg’s performance rose to the same level as his co-stars but it doesn’t. Wahlberg has quietly and shrewdly been making a name for himself as an Executive Producer (The HBO series “Entourage” for one) and perhaps in this film he just “stayed on the ropes” and let his co-stars shine, but I can never forget that I’m watching Mark Wahlberg. I’d love to see him take on an unheroic role where he disappears into the character and I never for a second think I’m watching Mark Wahlberg. I think he has it in him, but no Director has been able to pull a transformative performance out of him yet. Still, The Fighter is one of the best films of the year.

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