Was waiting for the proper mood to watch this film that I suspected was going to be hard-to-watch and unfortunately even when I thought I had the correct mood, I was not much prepared to watch this disturbing story about drug addiction, mother-son blind support and yes, redemption; problem is that film spends more than three fourths telling the dark story and redemption only comes in the end. So it was hard for me to feel uplifted after watching film as bad taste remained in my mouth for a long time.
My clue to know that film was going to be raw was Christian Bale that honestly I don’t enjoy much his performances when he plays dark characters; he’s such a good actor that makes raw characters so real that become unwatchable for me. There is another film where he lost weight to perform that I simply had to stop watching as became intolerable; here he didn’t lost that much weight, but was skinny enough to look like a real crack addict and yes there are other characters in film but my eyes were on him every time he was on screen. Very unpleasant but this time I was able to watch film completely.
Other main characters were also not pleasant to watch, especially Melissa Leo’s excellent Alice Ward recreation that was as disturbing as his son Dicky (Bale) and the only okay character Mickey (Mark Wahlberg) looked like a lamb among wolves, which in my opinion facilitated the disappearance of Wahlberg performance and character even when he was the real essence of story. Think that screenplay gave much weight to dark characters and not enough weight to Mickey Ward character/story.
Film tells the story of how Mickey Ward against all odds became the world light welterweight champion. But it’s not a sport film; this is a raw drama about a dysfunctional family and a mother of nine children (two boys and seven girls) that was blindsided with the early success of her son Dicky, also a boxer that his major accomplishment was to defeat Sugar Ray Leonard. So blind that she didn’t want to see Dicky’s downfall into drugs, crime and prison, much less how Mickey was left alone to deal with his half-brother Dicky influence and his mother –who also became Mickey’s manager- lack of sensibility toward his needs. Very raw story by itself and thanks to the screenplay became a lot rawer in the screen.
I believe this is a film of extremes, either you like it a lot or you don’t. I didn’t like it because of story/screenplay and the way director, David O. Russell, chose to tell it. But I do recognize that film will not be as disturbing as it was if didn’t had the great performances by Bale and Leo. Can’t help but tell you that Darren Aronofsky was supposed to direct this film but left the project to direct Black Swan; I’m glad he left project as Black Swan became spectacular in his hands, but I’m left wondering how this film and story would have become if he directed.
I know that many will like the movie and will find it not enjoyable but satisfying; unfortunately I was not one of the many. Can’t recommend film but if you’re in the mood of watching a raw dysfunctional family story portrayed in screen rawer, then this film is for you.
Watch trailer @MOC