Cinderella Man (2005)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, Sport

Cinderella Man (2005) Poster

The story of James Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who came back to become a champion and an inspiration in the 1930s.

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  • Anne Hathaway at an event for Cinderella Man (2005)
  • Akiva Goldsman at an event for Cinderella Man (2005)
  • Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man (2005)
  • Anne Hathaway at an event for Cinderella Man (2005)
  • Akiva Goldsman at an event for Cinderella Man (2005)
  • Craig Bierko and Fulvio Cecere in Cinderella Man (2005)

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31 August 2005 | Chris_Docker
| Simple crowd pleaser
Cinderella Man is the story of a Depression-era boxer and American hero Jim Braddock, but it contains enough love interest, family interest, and great-champion-of-the-people interest to satisfy most Saturday night out filmgoers. It's a total no-brainer, beautifully served up, and all the clichés delivered with such accurate emotional punch that you forgive it for being a tad unoriginal.

Gladiator and bar-brawl man Russell Crowe plays the lead role and Renée Zellweger puts in a good performance as the ideal and very loving wife that supports her husband through thick and thin. The story starts in 1928 when Braddock is doing quite well, but the depression hits and, with an injured hand, he is forced to work in the shipyard. He and his family live in fairly abject poverty until a lucky break enables him to make a comeback.

This is the working man's hero who never says a bad word, teaches his kids never to steal for food even when they are starving, and nobly gives back his social security money the minute he can afford to. Zellwegger is similarly faultless of course, striking the right balance between supportiveness and concern that her man could get his brains knocked out permanently. The last fight generates quite a lot of genuine excitement due largely to neat editing and intense cinematography - you can almost feel your nose bleed just watching it.

This is classic American-style hero creation and worship and, on the face of it, healthy enough. So why the doubts? Sure you can sit back and just enjoy it, it's the type of story the U.S. has done well for a long time; but compare it with European cinema and it all seems very full of absolutes. The heroes don't have any failings. The choice is between total success and total failure, no half measures. Much as I admire the use of role models, I somehow wonder if more human heroes aren't sometimes called for, people who do quite well, who sincerely better themselves and others, but without becoming the most applauded individual on the continent. In watching the big picture we sometimes miss the detail that makes life real to everyone, not just the lucky few.

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