BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
The Fighter ★★★★★
David O Russell’s biopic of the American welterweight boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is as much a study of stepsibling rivalry and a horribly dysfunctional family as it is of the fight game. The story begins in 1993 when Ward’s career is going down the tubes. After a promising start he has become simply an opponent, someone for more gifted fighters to defeat on their way up. Nor is he helped by his mother (Melissa Leo) and his half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), a fighter turned crackhead, who respectively manage and train him, badly. What with them, a cowed father and a bunch of hideous sisters, Ward hasn’t got much going for him until he meets Charlene (Amy Adams), a tough barmaid who tries to wrest him from the clutches of his awful family. It’s beautifully acted – especially by Bale – funny and touching, as Ward’s comeback leads him towards a world title fight in London and maybe hope for the future.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★★★
Adults often mark down this follow-up to Raiders of the Lost Ark for its chattering child and screaming heroine, but the set pieces are spectacular and the pace rarely flags.
The Duchess ★★★
A refined Keira Knightley plays Princess Diana’s ill-fated antecedent Georgiana, with Ralph Fiennes as her unfaithful husband, in this warts-and-all portrait.
StreetDance 2 ★★★★
While we wait for the celebs to strut their stuff in Strictly, marvel as some of the best dancers in Europe bust some moves (rather than bust a tendon) in this high-energy sequel.
The Shawshank Redemption ★★★★★
This life-affirming 1940s-set prison drama makes for absorbing viewing as Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman learn to survive the hell of a long stretch.
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