At face value the plot of this film seems almost clichéd - how a working class Massachusetts boxer, Micky Ward, overcame the odds to fight his way to a world title. A more novel twist arises from the fact that many of the problems that he had to overcome arose from his own family - an overbearing mother who insists on trying to manage him and a crack-addicted brother, Dick Ecklund, formerly a talented boxer with the potential to be a brilliant trainer wasted by his addition, which threatens to also ruin Ward's dreams.
The boxing scenes are impressively done conveying both the physicality and the strategy of the fights, building towards a deeply satisfying and moving climax as Ward's triumph is paralleled by, and to an extent catalyses, Ecklund's redemption.
The headlines and awards associated with this film went to Melissa Leo and Christian Bale - both deserved supporting actor Oscars - and Amy Adams' wonderful Academy Award nominated turn. However it is Mark Wahlberg's beautifully understated performance that is at the heart of this film. With it Wahlberg follows the footsteps of greats such as Robert Mitchum and Jeff Bridges into the "you'll-never-catch-me-acting" school of acting. It is this performance that holds the movie together and gives it its emotional resonance.