Family doesn’t always mean support, comfort, safety or security. Family might sometimes mean just the opposite of all that. Which is what we find in the story of The Fighter. Or at least, that’s how it starts out: the family of Mickey the boxer is quite toxic really, and he is surely better off without them, and this he realizes after one terrible boxing match in which he’s pitted against someone way out of his league. The mismatch results in knocking some sense into him, distancing himself away from his family, and taking his career more seriously with the help of some strangers in Vegas. Well, all bad things must come to pass as well, and things do slowly turn around, including the family who once mistreated him.
And pass they do– bad times, that is. And they finally come all the way around to where those bad times now become good times, thanks in no small measure to those same family members who were once as good as nothing as far as Mickey was concerned. But it is now that same family (a mother, father, brother, and seven sisters) that rallies around Mickey, and it is his rising star that makes the rest of the movie what is is: an impressive study in the dynamics of family, and both personal and professional choices and their impact on individuals and groups.
The mother in the story does a phenomenal job in portraying this Italian-style matriarch; no wonder she got Best Supporting Actress Award for it. Amy Adams is also pretty convincing as Mickey’s love interest. But it is truly Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale who outdo themselves in presenting a powerful persona of the life and times of small town boxers who turn professional, lose it all, and then win it back again.
The film is a great window into those big Catholic Irish communities in the East where the workingman’s idea of a good time is to hit the local bars after work and/or buff up in the local gym. The latter so as to either make you tough for the streets, or, if you’re lucky like Mickey, to turn you into a pro and win fame, fortune and the pretty girl. Does life get better than that? 🙂