“The Fighter” is an inspiration for anyone who may be may struggling with the pain and pitfalls of family drama.
With an overbearing, dominating mother as his manager, a crack-addicted, older brother as his trainer, and a gaggle of 20 and 30-something sisters who all seem to be stuck in high school, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) must give up destructive family attachments if he is ever to make anything of his long-stagnant boxing career. His transformation hinges on his relationship with Charlene (Amy Adams), his new girlfriend, who steps into his life and gives him the moral support, and mental clarity to cut through the web of ties that bind him to a family that is doomed to disaster. Only when Micky stands up for himself, fires his mother and brother, and chooses what is in his best interest, does his family begin to respect him.
Why see this film? See it as much for Christian Bale’s (Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor) remarkable and heroic transformation into crack addict and former boxer, Dick Eklund, and bravura performances from Melissa Leo and Amy Adams (both Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress), as for the brilliantly realistic fight scenes that will captivate and drag you in. Even if, like me, you’re not a fan of boxing.
See it for the powerful message of redemption and ultimately of brotherly love. Dicky eventually does break his crack addiction and awakens to the need to support his brother in his bid for a world championship title.
And look for the scenes with Charlene and Micky that pulse with true connection and loving support. It is delightful to see Amy Adams break type and impeccably deliver the “sexy bitch.”
Family ties can be powerful and tricky. We can defeat ourselves with the need to be loyal to family when the family patterns are destructive, or when the family is held hostage by a powerful figure – in this case, the matriarch, Alice. Alice would often guilt Micky into doing what she wanted, instead of what was in his best interest.
The most powerful way to contribute to your family is to be true to yourself. When Micky stood up for himself and refused to continue to let his mother dominate him, he broke the cycle and propelled his older brother to break his addiction. By respecting himself, he created the opening for others in the family to make some changes and to also begin respecting themselves. And of course, his success became their success.
The film is entirely worthy of its Oscar nominations and for the Best Picture nod. I expect it will do very well on Oscar night.
I have two films to go: “127 Hours” - which I’m rather dreading, and “True Grit.” Till next time...