As mentioned previously, David O. Russell's The Fighter really bristles with that Massachusetts blue-collar toughness and tenacity - its real and rousing and its more about learning how to balance your family and your loved ones with what you do and in that way, much more than just a flimsy boxing biopic.
It's mostly about how Mark Wahlberg's Micky Ward is trying to avoid falling victim to the same letdown achieved by his older brother (Christian Bale) and how his brother, in turn, tries to reclaim that dream and that passion that he couldn't get back or live up to through his own mistakes.
The wild, carnivorous Ward family constitutes the majority of the drama and handles it quite well, but Christian Bale's path to redemption from crackhead to ringside supporter is the real meat of the film and his performance is unquestionably raw and bony and magnificent.
Russell shoots the boxing scenes in highly digitized mid-90's HBO fashion, feeling for and accomplishing urgency and authenticity in a film that has plenty of it. Gone are the days of Ron Howard's sepia-drenched "cinderella" stories, The Fighter is as ugly and redemptive as they come. [B+]