April 20, 2011

Justify My Netflix: The Fighter

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

The Fighter

Today's movie: The Fighter, 2010 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this was one of the darlings of this year's awards crowd, the newest from a real favorite of mine, prickly director David O. Russell; plus it was produced by the suddenly hot Darren Aronofsky, another favorite of mine; plus it generated an Oscar for the always deserving Christian Bale, utterly transforming himself here into true-life nervy New England blue-collar loser Dicky Eklund, a promising boxer who succumbed to drugs but then got clean again for the sake of his half-brother, fellow professional boxer Micky Ward.

The reality: Wow! Well, I have to say, I'm usually not a fan of sports bios in any way whatsoever; but here Russell and company really pull it off, frankly due mostly to the astonishing job the hunky British Bale does here at portraying a wiry, balding, Boston junkie, showing us through his kinetic performance why so many people would care so much in the first place about the fate of this wheedling, often annoying hothead, of crucial importance for making this thoroughly anti-hero story fully work. And work it does, a deeply moving story that never pulls its punches when it comes to showing just how pathetic our protagonists are; just take for a good example the running subplot that sorta holds the entire movie together, the HBO documentary crew who are doing a special on how drugs have ruined Eklund's life, while in his addled state he believes the entire time that the whole thing is an elaborate setup for a televised comeback in the ring. That in a nutshell is the kind of movie this is -- raw, unflinching, intense -- with it no coincidence that both Russell and Bale are often described in real life using these same terms, a kind of pure energy that here is wisely focused into laser-precise performances and direction. It comes strongly recommended today, even to those like me who usually detest sports films.

Strangest piece of trivia: This film's training scenes were shot at Arthur Ramalho's West End Gym, the same place where the actual Ward trained in real life.

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:01 AM, April 20, 2011. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |