Monday, January 13, 2014

The Boxer. B-

The Boxer's script is a bit too eager to let the viewer know what's happening, and that it seems is its crucial flaw. An obvious companion piece to his 1993 In the Name of the Father, Jim Sheridan's movie deals with Danny Flynn, a boxer who has just been released from a 14 year stint in prison. Because he's played by Daniel Day Lewis, the movie almost feels like it's picking up where In the Name of the Father left off. The characters are different, but they could easily be the same. Flynn, in prison for IRA activity, is looking to bring peace to Belfast, and so he starts a boxing club that includes both Catholics and Protestants. Much of the tension in the movie is derived from Flynn's peaceful agenda and the opposition he gets from Harry, a fiery IRA leader who thinks that bringing peace to Ireland will serve as an insult to the Irishmen in prison for fighting for their country's freedom. In dealing with these matters the movie stumbles, delivering far too many scenes of political exposition and hammering home Flynn and Harry's opposing motives to the point of tedium. Happily, there's a nice little love story between Day Lewis and Emily Watson to compensate. She's married to an imprisoned IRA member, but in her heart she feels she belongs to Flynn, to whom she had been involved with before his 14 year stay in prison. It sounds a bit predictable, but their scenes together are really the best things in the movie. Watson and Day Lewis are such quiet professionals here, and writers Sheridan and Terry George give them thoughtful dialogue that's a nice contrast from the forceful IRA elements.

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