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Nineteen-year-old Danny Flynn is imprisoned for his involvement with the I.R.A. in Belfast. He leaves behind his family and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Maggie Hamill. Fourteen years later, Danny is released from prison and returns to his old working class neighborhood to resume his life as a boxer, fighting and opening a boxing club training aspiring boxers. Maggie has since married Danny's best friend, who is also imprisoned for his I.R.A. activities. Although he has not denounced the I.R.A. or denigrated his I.R.A. colleagues, Danny has decided to live a life free of political violence. His boxing club is nonsectarian, open to both Catholics and Protestants. This move irks some of his old I.R.A. colleagues since they feel working with the Protestants will not resolve their David versus Goliath struggle. Danny's old I.R.A. colleagues, especially their unofficial leader Harry, resort to traditional tactics of violence to stop Danny. Maggie's father, Joe, also an I.R.A. activist, ... Written by
Grim and cold -- but Day-Lewis is again excellent.
A former IRA man gets out of the can after 14 years and tries to rebuild his life in his old rundown Belfast neighbourhood.
This is a film that tries to cover a lot of ground and get a lot in. It has natural dramatic plus points in being set in a community that has been wrecked by civil war but has the hope of a new dawn. If only people would let it rise.
Prison does a lot to people. It is like a virus. It wears people down and changes them. Makes them harder and sexless. This is well portrayed in this movie. Boyle (Day-Lewis) has been inside almost all his adult life and is immature, but well contained.
Boxing is not the heart of this movie -- indeed it could live without it completely. It gives a dramatic centre, while the real drama is elsewhere and the message is not contained in the punches. In lots of ways it is a ticket selling con.
Director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot/In The Name of the Father) has done well with the limited material that forms the script. He uses a cool blue to replace the cold grey of the real Belfast. This prevents the place looking as dreadful as it really is and losing the audience.
Ken Stott plays an alcoholic boxing trainer who has a good heart and wants for the best. Sadly I don't put great store in men that decide they want to live their life in a stupor. Stott is a good actor though.
There is also a love story in this movie with Day-Lewis starting top pick up the pieces with his old flame Emily Watson. However the situation is complicated as her close relations don't fully approve (for reasons I don't want to go in to here.)
Any film that involves boxing has to nod to films like Rocky and Raging Bull -- and this film acknowledges it without borrowing too much. Indeed this is not really a boxing picture (as I said before) more a film about a man that uses boxing as he has very little else to cling on to.
The real weak point is the way ex-terrorist Danny (Lewis) is welcomed back and made a hero out of. Wouldn't his criminal record not prevent him from being welcome on the British mainland? Equally how good a boxer is he? Can't tell from the evidence here. Also you need a license to box in the UK -- and these are not handed out willy-nilly.
Small quibbles aside The Boxer is a better film than I thought it would be. It doesn't rub my nose in it any longer than necessary and all the thing really needs is something to climax on. What they come up with here is pretty weak and open.
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