One of the most highly anticipated new releases this week is "American Hustle," which is directed by David O. Russell and stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Russell previously directed Bale and Adams in "The Fighter," which came out in 2010 and, as "American Hustle" is already predicted to, did very well during awards season.
"The Fighter" is set in the 1980s and is based on a true story. It stars Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward, a somewhat ambivalent boxer who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts. His current trainer is his half-brother, Dicky Eklund (played by Bale), himself a former boxer whose unrelenting weakness for crack cocaine undermines his relationships. Micky's manager is Dicky's mom, Alice (played by Melissa Leo). Alice loves Micky, but has a limited understanding of what it takes to manage a successful boxer and is seemingly blind to shortcomings of any of her children. Micky's new girlfriend (played by Adams) encourages him to distance his career from Alice and Dicky, but because they are his family, he continues to give them "one more chance."
Director David O. Russell does a great job making the movie authentic. The clothes, cars, and household décor are all vintage New England underclass of the 1980s, and the cast has mastered the accents of this time and place. Also, the boxing scenes, especially the final match, are very impressive.
There are no sub-par performances in "The Fighter." Both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won Academy Awards for their work in the film. Bale, who had to undergo a major physical transformation for the role, conveys Dicky as a self-destroying druggie, but one who sustains an affection for his family. Leo shows Alice is also someone who loves her family, but is unable to acknowledge that she cannot be the solution to all their problems. Amy Adams is also excellent as Micky's feisty girlfriend, a bartender.
"The Fighter" is one of David O. Russell's best films and is good to check out in the days leading up to the release of "American Hustle."