NYTimes Reviews ‘The Fighter’

Tonight’s NYT online includes a home-page positive review of “The Fighter”  by A. O. Scott in which the commentary goes on at length and includes observations about the portrayal of Lowell and the city’s place in American culture. Read the review here, and get the NYT if you want more.

It’s unfortunate that many people in the media are writing about the setting of this story as if one slice of the city’s society represented the urban experience here as a whole during the 1990s, when Lowell was already 15 years into its renaissance. That was the source of the controversy over the notorious HBO documentary back then, and the film would appear to rewind the tape. I will see it soon. Richard Howe, Sr., was Mayor then, I believe, and was strong in speaking out for a more balanced image of the city at the time of the HBO production. There’s no denying the problems in those years, or now, but more was and is going on.

Mickey O’Keefe, Mark Wahlberg, and Christian Bale (Web photo by Jojo Whildon/Paramount Pictures, courtesy of NYT)

Sticking fairly closely to the facts of Mr. Ward’s story, “The Fighter” also plants itself firmly in his native terrain of Lowell, Mass., immersing the viewer, especially in early scenes, in the sensorium of a hard-luck industrial town left to languish in the backwash of globalization. The voices of the citizens are angry, irreverent and profane. The light is flat and unlovely. You can almost smell the weariness and desperation rising off of the tar that Micky, in his day job as a road paver, spreads on streets lined with sagging three-decker houses and faded storefronts. A city with a distinguished place in American labor and literary history — it was the birthplace of Jack Kerouac — Lowell in the early 1990s, when “The Fighter” unfolds, is blighted by poverty, unemployment and the crack epidemic, which has claimed Micky’s half brother, Dicky Eklund, as a casualty.

4 Responses to NYTimes Reviews ‘The Fighter’

  1. Lynne says:

    I swear, this movie is like our very own James Joyce. Except, Lowell is very proud of its degenerate recent history for some reason. LOL

  2. Righty Bulger says:

    Lynne, if you were half the human being Micky is, you might be tolerable.

    Micky may have his flaws and may have made mistakes in his life, but he’s a genuine human being with a kind heart and willing to acknowledge his faults. Despite the world wide fame he’s achieved, he never forgot who he is or where he came from. And he never, ever looks down on another human being. People in this city would kill to protect him and help him if he needed it. If you were on fire in the middle of the street, I wouldn’t stop to p….

    I’ll let you fiigure out the rest.

  3. Beckly Chandler says:

    Like it or not, the charm of Lowell, from Kerouac to Mickey Ward and Dickie Eklund, is what it has to say about the underbelly of the Industrial Revolution and its progeny. The story of the planned industrial city and the modern urban revitalization, while both commendable, are boring and unenlightening—adding little of interest, or importance, to our understanding of the human condition–except one very important thing–it is dedicated people like Mayor Howe who, through their thankless toil, manage to hold things together and keep the gig going–the best they can.

  4. Louise says:

    People are commenting on Lowell like they think it is a bad city. I am from Lowell, grew up in Lowell and brought up my kids in Lowell. My kids and I graduated from Lowell High School and got a good education, as did many of my friends. There are many beautiful homes and areas of Lowell and not everyone is on drugs. The NY Times report on Lowell is NOT what Lowell is like. They have no idea , and if you are not from Lowell, you would never “get it”. You have to be from Lowell to know what it’s like to have a bond that can’t be broken. I love Lowell and will never forget that it’s my hometown. I no longer live there, but I do go there a lot and have friends and relatives who live there. This town is proud of Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, and all of the other famous people from Lowell. We are all proud of the movie, “The Fighter”.