(directed by Gavin O’Connor, 2011)
****+ (out of 5)
> It’s a knock-out in round one!
. Compared to ROCKY for promotional purposes, I found this film far superior. Friends- fight films are among my least favorite genres of movie. I just can’t stand the codified brutality of boxing: one man pummeling the shit out of another for entertainment purposes- as though this were alright. To me, it is not. The thing is- I’ll watch any good film, regardless of the subject. I’ve seen good boxing films [Fighter (from 2001), The Fighter (from 2010), Girlfight (2000) Fight Club, the documentary WHEN WE WERE KINGS, and of course, Raging Bull] but I’ve never seen one as rich in subtext as this powerhouse of a film.
. The acting is perfect throughout- the excellent leads (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) look like real people, not celebrities playing fighters. Nick Notle has never been better- (and that is saying a lot!), as the emotionally tortured recovering-alcoholic father of two sons, who each fight in mixed martial-arts. Both hate him for what his disease did to their family, and how it caused an estrangement between them. Nolte always seems to be playing this part, but nobody does it better, and this one garnered a deserved Oscar nomination.
.. Two major flaws here are forgivable, because this film delivers in nearly every scene and kicks the audience’s ass in the final reel! Within the structural confines of the genre, you can see these flaws coming a mile off: Will Nolte’s gloriously tormented dad fall off the wagon? [Is the earth round?] Will the warring brothers be forced to face-off in the boxing ring at the end, externalizing their raging internal conflicts? [Can you buy cheap plastic crap at Walmart?] The ending was just sublime, even in its intrinsic horror.
. SO intelligently made, this fight film is not about fighting. It’s about making peace and learning to forgive. Do you like movies? THEN SEE THIS ONE!
* * *
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.