Thursday, March 24, 2011
It technically a boxing movie, and there is enough ring action to satisfy enthusiasts, but that's not really what this movie is about.
Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, comes from a salt of the earth, working class family in New England. I've been to Lowell, on the New Hampshire border, and it is certainly an industrial town.
The film tells the story of Micky's return to boxing after a severe dip in the success of his career. His brother, Dicky Eklund, played by Christian Bale, was a famous boxer himself, once going 10 rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard. He is Micky's trainer, but he's also a crack addict, a criminal, and a pretty poor excuse for a brother.
The boys' mother, Alice, played by Melissa Leo, is Micky's manager, but throughout the beginning of the film it's clear that his family is holding back his career. The external plot is about his return to boxing, and how he eventually becomes the world welterweight champion.
But it's the internal plot that really makes this movie. At it's heart it's a love story about two brothers, and what addiction can do to relationships between family members. It's just as devastatingly sad as it is inspiring. Christian Bale gives the performance of his career, for which he won an Oscar, and proves that he is much more versatile than only being able to play whispering super heroes.
Melissa Leo also won an Oscar for her role as Alice, and her performance might be a little outshined by Bale's, but it's really no less impressive. Amy Adams plays Ward's girlfriend and wife, and she is cast completely against type as a tough New England bartender. This is not your friendly neighborhood Disney Amy Adams. Mark Wahlberg is Mark Wahlberg, and while he may be more famous nowadays for his executive production acumen, his status as a Boston native and his commitment to the art of boxing make his performance more than adequate.
I can recommend this as a must-see film. It's perfect for couples because the boxing is fun and exciting for men, but this movie is really full of heart, telling a much deeper tale beneath the surface.