The Fighter V. The Wrestler: Round Three

Round Three

The Fighter’s narrative is one of second, nay last chances, hard work and tough lives in Boston.  It’s a true story which helps in a lot of ways, in some ways it’s very much the Raging Bull on the contemporary cinematic age regardless of whether Wahlberg and co want to Rocky-fy it by making a sequel.  It doesn’t just tell a sporting story, it tells a dramatic story.  The problem with the narrative is that it’s the supporting narrative that’s more interesting.  Ward’s story should go on to the championship defence and an epic battle but in reality he lost that bout so the triumph must come with his win overseas.  It’s still an amazing story but not uncommon in pugilism.  Dicky’s story is the heart and soul of the movie, the one time great fighter lost to himself in a sea of drugs who manages to battle back from the brink.  He knocked down Sugar Ray, he knocked down addiction, there’s little he can’t defeat but with the focus on Micky it’s a story wasted, and it’s a shame.

Where The Fighter is based on a real story The Wrestler is a piece of fiction.  A life long wrestling fan Aronofsky signalled his desire to make a combative squared circle picture to his writer while making The Foundation and ironically what they came up with was more Raging Bull than it’s generational comparison.  It’s a tragedy in spandex, it’s high quality Shakespeare with suplexes.  The complexity of Randy’s life, the contradiction of his professional versus personal realms and the sheer heartbreak that he’s a man who can only hold it together long enough to see it crumble is truly amazing.  You cheer, you cheer as much when he’s on the street as when he’s in the ring.  You want it to work out for him and the reason for that is that Robert D. Siegel penned an incredibly emotive piece of fiction that dances with the odd cliché but dines with the gods.

Both films will have you on the end of your seat but it’s The Wrestler’s great tragedy that wins across audiences.  The Fighter is a great tale, greater all the more for being true but the truly excellent story here is Dicky’s.  Randy “The Ram” is a classically flawed hero, doomed to destruction by his own inability to adjust with the changes and ravishes of time.

The Fighter 1 - 2 The Wrestler

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