Monday, December 6, 2010

For Lowell! Movie Review: The Fighter

It will surprise possibly someone to learn that boxing is not foremost among my passions.

The Fighter is a moving about boxing. More generally, it is a sports movie, with the training and competition narratives common to the genre.

For the non-sports-inclined, it is also about family, and how family can support you, but sometimes also mess up your life, and how you need to find a balance with what's good for you, and what your family wants. It's based on a true story, so there's that.

It's also about Lowell, Massachusetts, which is generally considered to be one of the less-glamorous of the Boston suburbs, in 1993.

It's about Dickie Ekland, the Pride of Lowell as a welterweight fighter, who fought Sugar Ray Leonard at the high point of his career, and also got addicted to crack. He trains his brother, Micky Ward, who is also a fighter.

They have seven sisters, and their mother is Micky's manager, and things aren't going too great in his career as the movie opens. But of course he gets an opportunity, or there wouldn't be much of a story, and we get some dramatic familial tension, ups and downs of life and crack addiction, and some boxing.

I thought the movie did a nice job making all the people involved sympathetic and believable, with all their quirks and flaws (although it was kind of hard to differentiate the seven sisters, who often seemed to be presented as being one big scary mass).

It's filmed with a low-key, gritty look, mimicking television at times and in general looking more like something you might see around town (especially if you go to Lowell) than like glossy movie sets.

It was also fairly relaxed in pacing. You get a lot of time for character development and interaction between the people on the screen--it's not nonstop fighting or heart-wrenching drama (although there's some of each).

There are health issues aplenty, what with the crack addiction and the frequent facial damage of the boxing. I did not see any libraries, however. But there were posters of old fights at the gym, so that's semi-archival, right? I say yes.

Boxing has not become one of my passions following this movie, but the fight scenes were nicely done, and sufficiently exciting that I was thoroughly engaged. "Punch him!" I would have yelled helpfully at the screen, if I hadn't been in a crowded theater where that would be rude.

Also, "For Lowell!"


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