Tuesday, February 07, 2006

FILM: Cinderella Man

Over the weekend, we got to watch Cinderella Man, which is already out on DVD. I was wary as to whether I would enjoy this film, since I have an aversion to boxing, and it is after all a story about a boxer. (Why boxing is such a perennial theme in films, I'll never quite get. Aren't there plenty of other individual sports where heroic character can be demonstrated, without all the horrendous violence?) However, the inspirational theme of this story, emphasizing the truly admirable character of James Bradford, won me ever. The story was about boxing, but more, it was about a man struggling to support his family, and to stay true to his values of honesty and responsibility, despite the hardships of the Great Depression. And it was truly heart-warming. (In both its setting and its heart-warming inspiration, it reminded me of a great film of a couple years ago, Seabiscuit.) Knowing how close this story touched to the milieu of my mother's childhood in New York and New Jersey in the 1930s added to the meaning for me. Ron Howard did a great job directing this, conveying a vivid sense of what lives were like then, including the combination of blissful semi-ignorance and fear and uncertainty experienced by the children of that time. Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger were both amazing in their roles, flawlessly personifying their characters. (Pity the film came out too early last year for the Academy to remember it. True, they did nominate Paul Giamatti for his great portrayal of Braddock's manager, but that's only because his Golden Globe win jogged their memory.) If you would enjoy a film about the sort of spirit that made our country great, then go see Cinderella Man.

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