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The Fighter

No, it's not a documentary about the I Heart Huckabees shoot (look it up on YouTube if you haven't already). It's David O Russell getting as mainstream as he has in a long time (maybe ever) in telling the story of Micky Ward, the boxing champ who came from a hard-luck small Massachusetts town to win the title in his class in the mid 90s.

I found myself wondering if any movie about boxing can escape from the shadow of Rocky, but this movie is more about the tensions between self and family than boxing. After being trained his whole life by former fighter turn speed addict Dicky (Bale, going serious method again and looking a world away from Bruce Wayne as the weedy psychopath), Micky is thinking of throwing it all in.

His controlling mother's steered him in the wrong directions professionally his whole life as his manager, his brother's never there on time and he's losing one match after another. It takes his burgeoning relationship with pretty, feisty waitress Charlene (Adams, looking foxier than she ever has before) to convince him there might be another world where he can be a champ if only he cuts his family ties a little.

Ward is pulled in too many directions and I found Wahlberg's character a little frustrating for not putting his foot down and telling everyone the way it's going to be when the right choice was obvious. Without a supporting cast that outshines him at every step, the movie might have been a bland crowdpleaser. In the hands of such great casting and Russell's eye it's no less a crowd pleaser but a smart one, with a tone similar to Aronofsky's The Wrestler.

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