Why This One: Everyone who’s seen this on has loved it, and I’m no exception. David O. Russell finally delivers on his early promise and then some, Bale does what he does best, Adams is shockingly good playing totally against type (she gets to throw some punches herself!), and Wahlberg quietly reminds us how great he can be in the hands of a great director.
Rules It Drove Home:
- Begin at the Beginning, End at the End: Ward is famous today for the three knock-down, drag-out title fights he fought against Arturo Gatti. But you won’t see those here. The writers took a good look at his life, decided that the best story was Ward’s struggle with his own family, and then ruthlessly pared that story down to its essence. We begin when Ward finally becomes aware of that problem and we end when that problem is ultimately resolved. The Gatti fights came about because Ward had solved his problems outside the ring, so they have no place here.
- Throw Everything Into Relief: Crack addiction! Police brutality! Bloodsport! This could have been a very turgid drama. Instead, against all odds, it’s absolutely hilarious at least half the time. These people don’t know they’re in a drama. And it’s only because of the comedy that the drama works. We would give up on these people ten minutes in if they weren’t so endearingly goofy.
- Roll The Rock Uphill As Long As Possible: How many chances do the mother and brother get to ruin everything before they finally get it right? We get to the point where they’ve totally rubbed us raw. The hair goes up on the back of our neck whenever they enter the room. Then they finally surprise us. That’s how to create expectations before you defy them at the last possible minute.
- Be An All-Loving Creator: We start off pitying these fools for giving the crackhead in the family too many chances, but soon we start loving him too and we’re right there with them rooting for him, against our own instincts. The movie humbles us with a simple Christian moral: Never give up on anyone, no matter what.
I had zero interest in this film (melodramatic premise turned me off; seemed like Oscar bait) and now you've convinced me to give it a chance. I like Wahlberg and think that David O. Russell's previous film with him I HEART HUCKABEES is a masterpiece, one of the all-time great comedies and one of the only films I've ever seen that successfully dramatize complex philosophical and religious ideas without ever once failing to entertain.
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