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A movie with both brains and brawn and a knockout performance

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Bale, looking rail-thin and wideeyed, has the Oscar nomination and Golden Globe win, but it's Wahlberg who's the more memorable in a less showy role. A movie with both brains and brawn and a knockout performance from Bale, The Fighter takes a familiar rags-to-riches story and delivers a feelgood hit. The Fighter looks at first as if it is going to be a far more interesting movie than the straightforward and even rather undemanding drama we finally get. We grow to respect each character's perceptions and forgive their faults, allowing them to win us over in a jubilant finale - a far cry from the schmaltzy The Blind Side. The film bounces us from one pugilistic or domestic affray to the next, only coming to a near-standstill whenever Wahlberg gets acting space. It goes to show. Putting aside the characters who get unfair treatment, and the one too many segues which work clumsily to keep pace with the demands of story arc, such touches make The Fighter a better than average boxing movie. The emotional meat of The Fighter lies not in the traditional sports-movie narrative of the ascension of the underdog (although there is plenty of that), but rather in the turmoil of Micky's dysfunctional family

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