NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t AIR

After working together on Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees, actor Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell collaborated for the third time on their new film The Fighter, based on the true story of the Massachusetts boxer “Irish” Micky Ward. Ward, best known for his three fights against Arturo Gatti, won the Light Welterweight Championship in 2000, when his older half-brother, Dicky, convinced him to re-enter the ring after several years on hiatus. Dicky, portrayed by Christian Bale in the film, was a former pro boxer whose career ended after he became addicted to crack cocaine. Wahlberg and Russell join Terry Gross for a conversation about how they put Ward’s story on-screen during a tight film shoot that lasted only 33 days. MORE

RELATED: For all the bluster, “The Fighter” jostles dangerously close to the corny. Maybe that’s an occupational hazard of the boxing movie, which traditionally balances the physical prospect of beating someone out of his senses with the more edifying notion of having good sense beaten back in. Hence the “Rocky” franchise, and hence the conventional climax of “The Fighter,” with Micky confronting an Irishman named Shae Neary (Anthony Molinari), who appears to be hewn from basalt. We could be watching a Ron Howard picture. In short, it’s a curious project for David O. Russell, the maker of “I Heart Huckabees” (2004), and the jitters in mood here, from melodrama to semi-farce, and from blue-collar grit to teary triumphalism, suggest a director striving to keep control of bumpy material. MORE

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