Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Boxer (1997, Jim Sheridan)

The Boxer is a really ambitious film that at time hits the ambitious point it is trying to reach for perfectly while other times it gets near but doesn't reach it all.

The film tells the story of a local town good guy, played by the great Daniel Day Lewis delivering another great performance, who was a promising boxer when he was a teen but was arrested and sent to prison for 14 years due to his connections with the IRA. 14 years have now passed and he is a free man who's only goal is to reopen a gym, begin boxing again, and rekindle the relationship with the girl he left behind. Of course, it doesn't take too long before his past starts catching up with him and his life is at risk.

The Boxer at times seems likes its about to become a brilliant character study when it starts going into Daniel Day Lewis' character's history and the way he wants to live now. The thing is that the film also thrives to become a political drama and when the politics mixes with the character study it comes off a little bit half realized and the two aspects never intertwine too well. It just feels as if something is off.

The other thing the film has is that it tries to be everything. It tries to be a boxing sports drama, a romance, a character study, and a political drama. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing but the film is so soaked in it's political story that you really begin to wonder why we keep going back to seeing boxing matches when it really only plays as background noise to the actual story.

Having said that, everyone from Daniel Day Lewis to Emily Watson to Brian Cox deliver outstanding performances. The heart of the film and the best thing about it is the forbidden romance between Lewis and Watson. Their relationship never falls on cliches and because of this feels more real than it could have felt if they were proclaiming their love to one another every couple of minutes and then kissing.

The Boxer is far from a perfect film. It's also far from a great a film. It's just a good film that never really achieves it's true potential but features enough great performances and the always great direction by Sheridan to make a worthwhile time.

- ***

1 comment:

Jason said...

Another great review TC. It peeves me that I can't find this film anywhere and it has been near the top of my to see list for ages. I'll watch anything with Emily Watson or Lewis and with Sheriden at the helm, heck this seems like a winner. Now if only I had some way of watching it. Grrr....