Aside from the stellar performances and powerhouse acting, The Fighter fits the traditional mould for a boxing movie: down-on-his-luck hero fights back to celebrity status against the odds. It’s the age-old ‘underdog’ story done a million times before, but somehow The Fighter felt original and like it was the best of the crop - O.Russell utilises Aronofsky’s grimy shooting style; all organic grime. The grimy backstreets of Lowell are reminiscent of Affleck’s Boston, all white slat houses and familiar neighbours; where people never leave the street they grew up on and anyone who went to college is tarnished with a sanctimonious brush by the locals - outsiders and white-collars are not welcome.
Aside from being a relatively serious film, dealing with issues from crack addiction to family loyalty, there is still some comic relief, namely in the form of Micky and Dicky’s seven sisters - reminiscent of the two prostitutes interviewed in Fargo - as they bicker and argue with frown unerringly at Micky’s love-interest, Charlene, because she is some ‘MTV girl’ - which means she’s wild! What more, we see Dicky’s hair-brained schemes to make money, and his crazy escapades to avoid his mother knowing about his addiction - something never actually spoken about between the family until a revelatory TV show.
To finish off a the hat-trick of five-star movies in 2011 (with The King’s Speech and Black Swan) I am delighted to have had such a positive cinematic experience in January, with 127 Hours also delivering the goods, but not quite climbing to a revered five star rating. The Fighter is gritty, funny with compelling performances from its two leads and has usurped Raging Bull as my favourite ever boxing movie.