December 22, 2012 Film Reviews

Director David O. Russell has a knack for making films about socially dysfunctional families. His cynical, sardonic but perversely hilarious directorial debut Spanking the Monkey (1994) seized on the loneliness, disillusionment, alienation and incest of suburban life in small town America.

In The Fighter (2010), Russell weaves three seemingly incongruous genres, the documentary, the sports drama and the biopic to scrutinise the lives, trials and tribulations of professional boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale in his audacious, brazen and Academy Award winning role).

Gritty, suburban, engrossing and, at times, absurdly comical, The Fighter is not a film exclusively about boxing as it is about inseparable battles waged and fought inside the ring and beyond its perimeters; against contenders, members of one’s own family, and personal demons (among them drug addiction, imprisonment, lost glory and bitter defeat).

The themes of redemption, pride and, most notably, divided loyalties resonate throughout the film, particularly the profound contribution and influence of women on the lives and fortunes of these brothers. Melissa Leo delivers a career defining performance as the obsessive and controlling mother and manager, while Amy Adams shines like a rough gem as Mickey Ward’s outspoken and uncompromising partner.

Is there a sure-fire formula for winning? A proven recipe for success? In the world of The Fighter, success and triumph in one’s life and vocation requires more than individual talent and grit; it demands a combined and collective effort from one’s inner circle.

– Dr. Varga Hosseini