There have been a lot of true stories recently – all uplifting tales of overcoming obstacles and whatnot. And who doesn’t love a true story that ends up being a feel good movie. As it turns out, I have a threshold for how feel good those movies can be. Or The Fighter just took it too far.
(By the way, this review has major spoilers. Don’t read more if you would rather not know the end.)
Up till, like the last five minutes of the film, I had come to terms with everything I thought was wrong with it, and even though I knew it couldn’t go any other way. When we get the happy ending (that feels so very Hollywood) everything just came tumbling down. I love a happy ending, honestly. Even more so in a true story, if I’m shown that the character(s) deserve it. But did he really? I mean, I’m sure the real Micky Ward deserved his wins and everything. I have nothing against the real man. But the movie feels a little stretched. Not in the lying kind of way, but it felt like they were making the story bigger than it was to make it a Hollywood movie. Either that or David O. Russell did something horribly wrong. And what didn’t help were the prologue/epilogue interview bits. It was all a bit like they were trying too hard.
You know what I also hate? When you can feel the presence of the real people the film is about on set. You know they were part of the making and it takes something away. Biopics should really be made posthumously.
The two main boxing matches were shot like they were actually being filmed for TV, with the lower resolution and everything. I was very skeptical in the first match over this. It is such a noticeable difference; it takes you out of the story for a moment. Thankfully, you can get back into it. In fact, second time it happens, after my initial disapproving headshake, I found I was really into it, and for the slightest moment even forgot I wasn’t watching an actual match. But then he wins and it all goes downhill from there. Except for my momentary lapse of judgment, it actually feels a little patronizing, and almost backwards in terms of cinematic technological advancements.
It is a lot easier to go on and on about what I disliked, and there are significant things, but the good parts, mainly the acting, partially make up for all the faults. All four of the main actors, Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams were brilliant, and the performances definitely deserve all the awards recognition and the praise they’re getting. I would’ve thought Amy Adams would get the Globe over Melissa Leo, but I guess everyone just assumes the crazier the role required more skill, which I don’t think is necessarily true.
Knowing the family was involved in the making of the film, or even knew it was being made is odd, considering how bad the sisters and the mother and Dicky come across. Still, the crazy family doesn’t really valid how feel-good the movie tries to be at the end, and it left me feeling a little irritated. It’s a shame, because it has really good parts, and the performances are excellent. Somehow the overall product just didn’t work for me.