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The Fighter Punches Bitter Balcony, and We Say Thank You!

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review, The Fighter 2010Paul Tamasy, Eric JohnsonDavid O. RussellMark Wahlberg, Christian Bale Bitter,Bitterometer,meter The Fighter(2010)

“The Fighter” is a movie based on boxing brawler "Irish" Mickey Ward, who at the tail-end of his career managed notoriety with a legendary trilogy of fights with John Gotti. However, the title could also apply to director David O. Russell, whose temper and ability to push actors to their limit has caused infamous and documented on-set riffs with George Clooney and Lily Tomlin. Or maybe it can be attributed to Christian Bale, who went bonkers during the “Terminator: Salvation” set over an assistant’s error. The two talented but enraged men finally get to butt heads, and wonderfully, put their ire to good use in bringing Ward’s underdog tale to a hard-hitting, emotionally charged sports film.

Taking place in the industrial town of Lowell, Massachusetts in the early nineties, “The Fighter” follows Ward (Mark Wahlberg), an also-ran prize fighter who struggles to get his career on track, partly due to his mother Alice’s (Melissa Leo) poor managing skills as well and his trainer and brother Dicky’s (Bale) unreliability caused by his crack addiction. Ward, entering his 30’s, is nearing the end of his prime without legitimate contention or any real income to support his daughter. However, when he meets Charlene (Amy Adams), a wild child turned bartender, his relationship with her sets him on a crossroads where his career can finally lead him to glory, yet his gripping family ties stand in the way.

David O. Russell has the reputation of stepping away from the screenplay and stretching scenes, leaving actors to find authenticity in their performances. While this has caused strife several times for Russell, it’s also what makes him one of the dark horse renegades in Hollywood. Funny enough, it seems he has bonded well with the apparently chilled Mark Wahlberg, since this is their third collaboration following “Three Kings” and “I Heart Huckabees.” A dream project for several years, Wahlberg (who also produces this film) needed a filmmaker who avoids sentimentality in favor of depicting the gritty dwellings of a boxer’s plight. Russell hits flush in his portrayal of Lowell, a city worn down by its industrious roots, but also full of callous pride.

The performances are excellent, lead by an incredible transformation by Bale. His Dicky is a pathetic, selfish man whose flash of glory has allowed him to become a local legend while his addiction and petty thievery are looked the other way. Yet Bale makes Dicky a sympathetic figure, one who can win you over with an anecdote about his fight with the great Sugar Ray Leonard, or simply with a horrible rendition of a Bee Gees song (a duet with Leo inside of her car is the film’s best scene). Mark Wahlberg might be overshadowed by his counterpart, but his Ward’s warrior heart makes him an engaging hero to root for.

Ultimately, like Ward’s ascent to triumph, it might take “The Fighter” some vintage before it elevates to the ranks of “Raging Bull” and “Rocky” as the genre’s reining kings. However, David O. Russell has done something special that distinguishes “The Fighter” from Martin Scorsese’s black and white poetry or Stallone’s scripted Capraesque rendition of the Sweet Science. “The Fighter” might be the most honest film about boxing in recent memory, an observation of the adversities of the working class society compelled by the hope that this brutal sport can promise to one of their own. A powerful film that constantly jabs you in the gut, Russell and his corner give “The Fighter” a deserving title shot.


Official website:
The Fighter

The Fighter2010Paul Tamasy, Eric JohnsonDavid O. RussellMark Wahlberg, Christian Bale  The Fighter2010Paul Tamasy, Eric JohnsonDavid O. RussellMark Wahlberg, Christian Bale  The Fighter2010Paul Tamasy, Eric JohnsonDavid O. RussellMark Wahlberg, Christian Bale  The Fighter2010Paul Tamasy, Eric JohnsonDavid O. RussellMark Wahlberg, Christian Bale  The Fighter2010Paul Tamasy, Eric JohnsonDavid O. RussellMark Wahlberg, Christian Bale 

Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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