This is a soft three stars for me despite great performances by Leo (an Oscar pick for me in Supporting) and Bale (not a pick for me, despite some great work) and a visual production style that feels dead-on even if misleading. The film is over-exposed, making it feel like 70s film stock, but the story is from the late-90s and early 2000’s. It makes sense in the context of the town and people, but threw me temporally.
Unlike last year’s The Wrestler, directed by Aronofsky (and pertinent because he Exec Produced this opus by Russell), this movie is about boxing rather than people. Or better put, while The Wrestler was the story of a man and his family at the end of his career, The Fighter is about the beginning of a career for a boxer and his family. It really focused on the boxing rather than the relationships… and Eklund was a boring boxer. Even Raging Bull, which has long boxing scenes was really more about the marriage than the fights. It can be argued the story isn’t about Wahlberg’s character but about Bale’s (the older brother) and I think that was the intent, but if so, it didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps Russell stuck too close to the truth of the facts rather than the truth of the story? I can’t say for sure, but it left me bored and unaffected despite some of the craft that put it all together.