Film reviewing for The 405 – The Fighter

As I have mentioned before on Twitter/Facebook/to anyone that will listen, I’m going to start writing film reviews for the online Music/Art/Film magazine The 405. My first review was published on the site yesterday, a review of the Oscar contender The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo.

This particular film review was undertaken at a preview screening via a Little White Lies promotion with Grolsch at Curzon Soho. Little White Lies is a top-class magazine produced by the creative agency The Church of London, and looks exclusively at independent cinema from all over the world. Before the film itself, the audience was lucky enough to see the world premiere of this short video of the making of the Black Swan issue before it did the social networking rounds and became a meme sensation: the video has already had almost 22,000 views in less than a week. It really does make me miss the excitement of making a student paper every month. Well, just a little bit.

While I’ll mostly be writing about film, The 405‘s specialism is mainly indie and electronic music, with plenty of reviews, interviews and interesting debates about independent music. It’s run by an uber enthusiastic bunch of individuals and it’s content is written by an even savvier bunch of volunteers. I’m joining the team to review new film releases for the site as a personal exercise for me to keep writing on a regular basis, improve my writing technique and commentary on popular culture, and hopefully as a spring board for other work in the future.

I’ll keep posting my reviews on my blog for my personal reference and to update my resume, but don’t forget to look on the site for comments and discussions.

The Fighter

It’s easy to walk into the cinema thinking The Fighter is just another wannabe Rocky. Don’t. While The Fighter is based on the true, rags-to-riches story of Micky ‘Irish’ Ward, the story is as captivating and entertaining as any other, but thankfully misses out the steroid injections.

It’s mid 80’s Massachusetts. Micky Ward (Mark Walberg) is a thirty-year-old welterweight boxer, known in the sport as a ‘stepping stone’, used in fights to allow other boxers to reach the big time. Micky is managed by his mother Alice (Melissa Leo) but she instead dotes on his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christan Bale), a former boxer, local legend, and crack-cocaine addict. Dicky, a boyhood inspiration to Micky, is predictably unreliable and spends more time in the local crack house than in the boxing ring training Micky.The film is less about Micky’s professional struggles in the ring and more about his personal struggles with his dysfunctional family.

The film is well paced throughout and contains fewer boxing scenes than expected, but they’re nevertheless realistically grisly. There are some nice cinematic touches that remind you of the realism of the story, such as the grainy television screenings of Micky’s matches and the documentary that Dicky was taking part in. The comic scenes are also a surprise given the subject matter, particularly the ones involving Dicky and Alice avoiding the inevitable intervention for Dicky’s habit, and Charlene spectacularly locking hair with Micky’s seven sisters.

Mark Wahlberg, also from a Massachusetts family of 9 children, looks very comfortable in the lead role, physically training for this film for the last 4 years, as well as producing it. However, for all of Wahlberg’s passion, Micky appears to have very little of it, which is the film’s weakness. Both the film and Micky’s career are driven in two different directions by the strong supporting cast. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo provide outstanding Oscar worthy performances, while Amy Adams portrays Micky’s girlfriend Charlene Fleming as understated, but just as fierce.

It’s also worth noting that the Dropkick Murphys song to Micky Ward ‘The Warriors Code’ surprisingly did not appear in the soundtrack. I think this is because the overall tone of the film isn’t just a celebration of Micky’s achievements, but also Dicky’s personal come-back. The Fighter won’t start a boxing revolution, or batter your emotions on the ropes, but it’s in great shape and defiantly worth a punt.

8/10

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