Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Christian Bale as Dickie Eklund in The Fighter

Ah, the magic Christian: an award winner at 13 for his lead performance in Steven Spielberg's 1987 Empire of the Sun, he took the role of the yuppie serial killer in the scandalous American Psycho, lost 63 lb. (29 kg) for The Machinist and dropped another ton or so to play the captive soldier in Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn. The very definition of a serious star in Method madness — recall his rant on the set of Terminator Salvation — Bale is also a resourceful, surprising actor, digging deep into eccentric-loner parts and mining behavioral truth. That's the case in The Fighter. His washed-up boxer Dickie Eklund, once the pride of Lowell, Mass., is now a pathetic crack addict whose only hope is to pass his knowledge of the sweet science to his half brother Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). In a little festival of tart, savory performances, notably from Melissa Leo as the boys' mother and Amy Adams as Micky's girlfriend, Bale shines the brightest, because he knows that no character, however depraved his status, is only a monster. He finds beauty in the beast.