Any athelete will tell you that sports are war, only simpler and better, and when enemies engage in such deathless violence, the battle can be not just metaphorical, but curative -- that's why the US threw the Iran match (just kidding). And that's what Daniel Day-Lewis' aging pugilist had in mind in the The Boxer, a didactic but ultimately moving fistful of the long-running (and perhaps unending) "troubles" that have riddled Belfast for 29 years. Day-Lewis does us a big favor by not raising his voice above a murmur, and that brave (for him) restraint mirrors the film's tone: gray, grim, brooding and suffused with futility -- with just enough gritty human hopefulness to justify your pressing PLAY. The peaceful fight and the fighters kill, and only the boxer knows when to stop punching. There's nary a moment to cheer in the entire film -- it's no Rocky installment -- and that makes it just the right choice for the end of what, for diplomats, must have been a saddening week.
For maximum effect, watch late at night and alone. A pint or two is recommended but of course optional. But rewinding -- just to watch it over and over again -- gets more than a little depressing.