The Pride Of Lowell.

Finally got around to seeing it. Because I'm a cheapskate who wouldn't shell out for theater tickets. My rule of thumb these days seems to be if it doesn't have large explosions and/or vast, imaginative worlds, it can wait for rental. And so The Fighter collected a bit of dust until I finally got around to seeing it. It didn't help that it's a boxing movie. I have some sort of weird aversion to boxing movies. The funny thing is, it's not the fighting that turns me off. Clearly, I'm a sucker for a little good bloody fun. What turns me off is that gritty hyper-realistic dramatic feel that they all seem to have. In the same way I refuse to watch a slasher flick filmed entirely in "oh, look at us, we're decaying and rotten" blue-green filter, I have to be in a very certain mood to stomach that "handheld camera gritty" style most boxing movies seem to adopt. So call me a movie snob. But when it comes down to it, movies are all about the art of eyecandy, and when something rubs my vision the wrong way, I ain't gonna be racing to the theaters to catch it.

Needless to say, the beginning turned me off. Not only is it a "gritty boxing movie", they start it off in this reality TV show style. Which is eyevomit in my opinion. But I'm just not a reality TV person at all. And when I see a movie, I want to see something that looks good, not something with a high budget doing its best to look low budget (exceptions to this rule being super stylized movies, like Grindhouse). But. For all my bitching, after a bit, I finally settled into the skin of the movie. The "home video" thing grew on me after a bit, and I'll admit it definitely added a sense of reality to the whole thing. And I'll say this: for me, the movie didn't start until we realized what exactly Dicky's reality show was about. Then things started getting interesting. It was no longer a movie about the boxing legend Micky Ward--instead, it clearly dug its heels in as a movie that was going to revolve around the characters and their very human struggles.

Speaking of Micky and Dicky. Best bromance ever. The center of this film really isn't Micky, or Dicky, or the crazy bitches that surround the world they live it. It's about the bromance these two brothers have. And let me tell you, they've got a great chemistry. Out of all the characters in the film, they're the only ones that seem to have anything really genuine going on between them. I think this is partly praise on the writing and partly praise on the acting. Every other character relationships is strained--with the mother, it's all about how she's their "manager", and their various sisters just seem to serve her as little hellish minions. On the other hand, there's Charlene, who you like at first, and maybe if you're not me you continue liking her, but in my opinion she comes out to be a bit of a tool at the end.
I'd rather fist fight Micky any day.
And then there's Micky and Dicky. Christian Bale manages to draw a lot of brilliant, subtle little details in Dicky's skin--we have his larger than life character, and then we have the way his brother tames him. He instantly calms whenever he's around Micky, dropping the "big man" act and just being genuinely himself. His love and loyalty to his brother shine through in those moments. And then we've got Micky, who does something of the reverse effect. When he's around his brother, he actually opens his mouth. He talks to him. He even yells at him from time to time. He allows himself to get emotional and passionate. He feels safe to break out of his tight shell.

It's that tight shell of his that had me questioning Mark Wahlberg's acting skills the entire movie. I've known him mostly from The Departed and The Other Guys, both roles in which he played outrageous douchebags. This was something else. At first, I just thought he was so overshadowed by the other actors that Marky Mark wasn't really trying all that hard. But with a little benefit of the doubt and some wise words from Jose at Movies Kick Ass Blog, I rethought my stance. The thing is, Micky really is that lethargic. He's closed in, he keeps everything tight to his chest, he's an extremely introverted character.

Lastly, the oscars were deserved. Christian Bale put his heart, soul, and stomach in this role. Really. Someone give this man a role where he's an overweight couch potato. Between this and The Machinist (more on that soon!), I need to see someone give this man a hamburger. And mama was a raving bitch. Really, Melissa Leo deserves that oscar just because I hated every second of her. She was brilliant in 21 Grams, and she returned to the screen to be brilliant in this one, so I say more power to her. She's a heck of a woman, that's for sure. And when you put the two of them together...they were definitely great. But maybe I'm just saying that because watching Christian Bale leap out the window into a trash can to avoid the wrath of his mother was just about the highlight of the movie for me.


  1. agree with all your assessments. I was surprised at how little it needed "boxing" to work. Not Rocky at all, but the twist was really good and worked.
    BTW, got out to see "Hanna" What a Kick ass flick that was!

  2. I haven't seen this one yet, I also have a bit of an aversion for boxing films.
    I'll probably see this one eventually and, I might even like it, but at the moment it really doesn't interest me much...

    great review though!

  3. @ Brent--I agree! It was really a drama masquerading as a boxing movie, which it somehow pulled off damn well.

    And I'm glad you finally got around to seeing it!! It was definitely kickass! There's really no other way to say it.

    @ Jack L--Thanks! I feel you, it took me way too long to get around to seeing it. It just didn't seem like one of those movies that'd really appeal to me, but I surprised myself by really enjoying it. Definitely worth a rental.

  4. I must admit I don't like Wahlberg's acting in general, and I'm not sure how he got the status he now enjoys, but I do love and deeply respect both Bale and Amy Adams, so I'm sure the film was good at least with their performances.

  5. Awesome review! You really honed in on the key aspects in terms of of what made the film work. The boxing was overshadowed, purposely I believe, by the family dynamics. Mickey and Dicky's relationship, as you smartly touch upon, is what made the film a memorable and compelling drama. And I agree that Wahlberg's acting seems stilted and low-key. As you correctly point out though, it was part of his character's make-up. On the other hand, Bale's histrionics were commensurate with Dicky's persona. So it was quite the intentional contrast.

  6. @ Dezmond--I can feel that, I think he's a hit or miss kind of guy with most people. And Bale and Amy Adams are most definitely awesome in this movie--I actually didn't realize she was such a good actress until I saw this. She's a versatile lady!

    @ Matthew--Thanks! I'm glad a lot of it rang true for you. I'm sure it was purposeful--you can't craft a movie like that and then in the editing room suddenly realize you've forgotten to put in the parts where they were actually boxing. And people can say what they want about the individual actors, but for the purpose of the movie Bale and Wahlberg played off each other really well.


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