DIRECTOR: David O. Russell
NOT A PART OF OUR COLLECTION
May Contain Spoilers!
Will we be adding this to our collection? MAYBE
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take you long before you find yourself making the comparison and thinking to yourself that this film is not Raging Bull (1980). But whether it’s trying to emulate this classic or not, it does evoke the spirit of Scorsese’s boxing masterpiece but the mere fact that this thought even enters your head is positive and an endorsement of the film.
Winners of the Best Supporting Actor and Actress Oscar (2010), Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, sums up the powerhouse of acting talent which Russell had to work with here. This is a character study, led by strong, damaged and interesting people, based on the true story of fighter Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) in the 1980’s and his relationship with trainer, crack head brother, Dick Eklund (Christian Bale).
Bale is absolutely on from here, again, emaciating himself as he did for The Machinist (2004) and plays the surprising likable ex-fighter, who has fallen a long way from the top, usual falling literally out of his crack house’s first floor window! Leo plays their mother and manager, a strong and domineering matriarch who manages to convey a layered if not blinkered view of what she wants for her two boys and seven daughters.
But personally my hats off to a subtle performance from Mark Wahlberg, who is certainly improving as he gets older and Amy Adams, who I have never had as much faith in as everybody else, but here she was excellent and I mean excellent. But credit cannot just go to the cast.
Obviously their performances were fantastic, but all these stars have failed to produce work up to this level in the past but this is the sign of a brilliant director and that credit must to David O. Russell. The pitch of the film was solid, subtle and layered, with a convincing narrative, an intimate camera and performances that matched. The screenplay was not without humour and considering its setting, it could easily have been a much more dour affair.
My only problem with this is the problem with most biopics and that is that the pace can be a little plodding and episodic but once this gets going it becomes engrossing. Going back to my initial point though, that this is not Raging Bull, it could have been a real contender with a little more creativity and I believe that the crew behind this are capable of delivering something very special.
Still a real gem of a boxing movie.