The Fighter (2010) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl
Our religious experience arrived when, about an hour or so into The Fighter, Mark Whalberg brings his new girlfriend Amy Adams to meet his family. They live in Lowell, which looks exactly like Massachusetts always looks in Hollywood—gray, grim, and beat-up. The family is grim too and there’s this shot of all his sisters sitting in two rows on the couch while his leathery mom stands by chain smoking in one of those plaid leotards the Arizona Jean Company used to sell. The women are possibly the ugliest females ever to be featured in a major Hollywood film. Big haired, squat featured, they ooze homeliness like facial grease from their adult-onset acne. Later in the movie, they and Amy Adams get in a huge girl fight that does not last long enough. Amy Adams, who looks pasty and yet beautiful, punches one of Mark Whalberg’s sisters in the face repeatedly, all the while yelling such inspired expletives as “You fucking cock sucking bitch how d’you like that you whore.” Everyone speaks in the heavy vowels of eastern Mass, and most of them could use a shower and perhaps some conditioner in their ‘dos. We were enthralled.
Christian Bale will probably be described as “stealing the show” in reviews, and he does jump around a lot, yammering on and on about some fight with Sugar Ray Leonard he won, or lucked into winning. Generally he is not as supportive a crack-head brother/trainer as Mark Whalberg deserves. There are all sorts of things we could add, but basically: this is a boxing-family-drama. There is boxing and there is family. Also there is really excellent use of the Whitesnake hit “Here I Go Again.” We’re watching the original music video for it on youtube now…girls doing splits on cars… flamboyant mic stand moves… just endless rivers of the softest hair…this tangent should in no way be taken as some sort of sign that The Fighter wasn’t awesome on every level, that its punishing boxing scenes weren’t so realistically rendered that we, and a very vocal minority in the theater behind us, felt like we were actually ring-side; don’t go thinking that The Fighter disappointed us in any way, that it failed to sharpen or lay bare our own understanding of perseverance, or forgiveness, or the vicissitudes of family, the dynamic exchange of self-sibling-parent. Nope. Totally did all those things. Go see this movie if you never want to forget where you came from, and the people who got you to the theater the day you go see this movie.