The Fighter: Reviewed

Our review of Oscar-nominated film, The Fighter. A boxing movie about white people... Again.
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Massachusetts is now well on its way to replacing Noo Joisey as my all-time favourite type of American accent. It has a slightly higher-pitched, more squirrelly tone to it than its better recognised cousin. I think it’s way cooler though and could happily listen to it grinding into my ears for hours on end. Or at least for 115 minutes which, coincidentally, is the precise duration of The Fighter.

The film tells the amazing true story of Micky “Irish” Ward, played by Mark Walberg, and his unlikely road to the World Light-Welterweight title. In particular, it focuses on his relationship with his half-brother and trainer Dicky Ekland (Christian Bale), himself a former boxing pro whose life has now descended into a nightmare of drug-addiction and crime.

Walberg and Bale’s characters are – like the boxers featured in Rocky, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby and Cinderella Man – white. Which is obviously totally fine. As anyone familiar with the professional game over the past 50 years will tell you, boxing is a sport played exclusively by white Caucasians. African Americans just aren’t really into it. It’s fine - there’s simply no need to adequately represent them in movie depictions of the sport – they don’t even know what boxing is! Drug Dealing, Rap Hop singing, and saying things like “Aw hell no!” – that’s much more up their street…

So, I think The Fighter is basically fine; an ok story that’s lifted by director David O. Russell’s quirky camerawork and some bombastic character acting from the supporting cast. Christian Bale, looking like a kind of crack-addled Popeye, is genuinely amazing as Dicky and will almost certainly win the Oscar he’s been nominated for. As will Melissa Leo as Micky’s manipulative mother. I actually think the film should have got a further nomination, split seven ways between the actresses playing Micky’s sisters. They are literally the most terrifying assembly of women I have ever seen in the cinema; a nightmarish horde of sweary fishwives with the uncanny ability to move around and talk as one single entity, like a swarm of chavy wasps. I wouldn’t even be surprised to learn that these characters weren’t even played by human beings, but instead are some kind of animatronic skankpuppets created in the Jim Henson Workshop. I demand a spin-off!

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