Director: Ron Howard (2005)
Russell Crowe, Renee Zellwegger, Paul Giamatti
Words by Sara Kelley
Cinderella Man took me completely by surprise.
I thought this movie was going to be a complete bore, and it started that way. The first twenty minutes or so of this film gives us the back story of Jim Braddock, the would be world champion of boxing, if only he could learn to use his left and let his right hand heal. Instead of this being a few minutes of the “where he was then” montage, it’s dragged out far too long and almost lost my interest right then and there. Thankfully though, as odd as it sounds, the Great Depression hits and the movie picks up.
From that point on, the characters carry the film through its ups and downs in one of the most emotionally compelling movies that I’ve ever seen. The relationship between Jim and his wife, Mae, is one of the sweetest and most believable couples you’ll find in a any film. Although the story takes place in the 1930’s Mae is neither submissive nor weak, but does everything in her power to help support and protect her family in a way that both flattering to women of the era and believable. Despite my distaste for Mr. Crowe, he really showed his stuff in this film and his acting is superb as is just about everyone else in the film, especially Renée Zellweger (although it may be the comparison to her work in the last film we watched her in, Cold Mountain, that makes her seem amazing) and Paul Giamatti as Braddock’s smooth talking agent.
There’s one scene in this movie that stands out far above the rest in my mind. After the Depression has hit Braddock loses everything. With no job, no fights and a broken hand he’s unable to pay his bills and Mae, terrified for their children’s health and safety, must send them away. Devastated by their loss Braddock goes to the men of the boxing industry and pleads that they help him in this time of need. While this scene could be corny or pathetic, Crowe becomes this desperate father and it’s impossible not to feel for this proud man who has been brought to his lowest level begging to bring his children home.
Overall this film is one of my favorite that we’ve watched so far. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it does prove Andrew’s theory about Ron Howard’s movies wrong, which is fun. There are not one, not two, but three black actors in this movie… so take that! Any movie with characters that can make me cry several times ranks high in my book. I give Cinderella Man an 8 out of 10.