I'm a sucker for the underdog-beats-the-odds kind of movie and especially when it's based on a true story. The Fighter is an exceptional film with lots of heart and great performances from people who are cast against type. Christian Bale is amazing as a burnt-out, crack-head ex-boxer and Mark Wahlberg is fabulous as his brother, although Wahlberg doesn't exactly look like he belongs in that family. Too GQ, but his performance makes you believe he could be. The most amazing was sweet and sparkly Amy Adams as a cynical, hardened bar maid who talks like a truck driver. Talk about casting against type. But it works. In spades. She is one of the best actors of our time, she has a truly engaging screen-presence, and that she could play this part realistically speaks to her talent. I can't imagine who read that script and said, "I know...Amy Adams!" as opposed to someone like Juliette Lewis, but it was a brilliant risk and it paid off.
Melissa Leo plays the mother of nine children (including the two boxers) and she's perfect as a trailer-trash, trash-talking, chimney-smoking mom who lives for the glory of her sons. The seven big-haired women (yes - SEVEN!) who play the sisters are mostly caricatures but their appearance is usually a funny bit that beautifully lightens the tension.
Five stars for this film with great writing, stellar performances and a lot of heart. A great film about the really stupid sport of boxing. Jeez, why would anyone want to do that?