In a purposeful effort to establish a familiar trend with my "Person of the Week" selections, another actor scores the coveted title. Instead of finishing up my last minute Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon, I ventured to the Cinema and watched The Fighter.
If you are part of the fortunate early few to have seen this film, then you can quickly infer who my selection is ... without turning any heads, congratulations Christian Bale. Such an ingenious master of his craft, Bale thoroughly owns his character in The Fighter. His absorbing rendition of real life professional Boxer/Trainer, Dick "Dicky" Eklund, is fully engrossing.
The realization of Bale's on screen charisma is as potent a force of memory as the physical charisma of any gifted athlete. Witnessing Bale perform on the screen is equivalent to witnessing Michael Jordan command his team on the hardcourt—you expect great things to happen and when they do, you are still infinitely mesmerized. I refer to this inexact scientific process as a scalable degree of breathtaking-ability—quite simply, it is the ability of a performer to cause your hairs to rise, your heart to palpitate, and your body to tingle in anticipation and excitement.
There is a certain visceral shock factor with any Bale performance. Though most critics panned his last two roles with the two notably underwhelming films, Public Enemies and Terminator Salvation, Bale leaves no doubt in confirming his precocious acting talent by his work in The Fighter.
It did not take more than five minutes in viewing The Fighter to become fully immersed in the magic of the film. This magical leap is owed largely to the gravitating force of Bale as an actor and assisted by solid directing from David O. Russell.
In the opening sequence of the film, Bale is dancing and pacing the streets of Lowell, Massachusetts with his kid brother, Micky Ward (played solidly by Mark Wahlberg). At this point, the audience is immediately kidnapped by the harrowing, energized spirit of the film. While Bale's character Dick is unleashing his addictive, drug influenced antics on the small time video crew that is documenting his life as a crack addict, the audience is witness to a duel examination—a seldom, if competently used film technique that allows the audience to watch Eklund perform for the video crew, while Bale performs for the overall film. A camera within a camera approach that only a handful of actors can masterfully execute but Bale effortlessly perfects.
Bale has always delivered awe shuttering performances. American Psycho, The Prestige and The Dark Knight represent just a small sampling of films, in which Christian Bale has rewarded his growing fan base with outstanding character portrayals. The Fighter gets Bale back in the ring of film's top echelon of performers. Christian bails his two most recently disappointing performances out of critical condition by giving a dazzlingly captivating Oscar worthy performance in a Best Supporting Role. Like a fervent Christian supporter should, I bow to you Mr. Bale.
* In the video below, Christian Bale talks about his latest film and the subject of my great admiration over the last two weeks, The Fighter. By the way, kudos to Bale and the entire cast for pulling off wickedly believable Boston accents!