The Boxer (1997)
Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father) directed this drama about a Belfast boxer, filmed with Dublin locations substituting for Belfast. Released after his 14-year prison sentence for IRA activities, 32-year-old Danny Flynn (Daniel Day-Lewis) returns to his old neighborhood and sees former-flame Maggie (Emily Watson), who has an unhappy marriage and now raises her son alone while her husband is in prison. To get back in the boxing ring, Danny gets the community-center gym back in operation and starts training, encountering opposition from militant IRA members, including Harry (Gerald McSorley). Danny and Maggie grow closer, but after a bomb sets off events leading to the destruction of the gym, Danny leaves for a disastrous boxing match in London. More grim situations arise when he returns to Belfast. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Boxer
Day-Lewis has the ability to make the will to nonviolence look positively volcanic. And Watson, with her 200-watt incandescence, makes longing look radiant.
If The Boxer doesn't quite score a knockout, that's because of such flaws as the too-sketchy development of the character of Maggie's son, who turns out to be pivotal. But the movie carries the day by aiming its strongest punches straight at the heart.
With Watson and Day-Lewis you can almost feel the heat, and their situation never feels contrived or artificial.
The critic dutifully tabulated each blunt plot point, each refried cliche.. And yet, when Danny's nemesis did something monstrously rotten, the critic was so enraged by the dastardly act that he had to stop himself from spitting his candy.
Though we've seen this unquiet terrain before, this new film about boxing, star-crossed lovers and the Irish Republican Army temporarily gives us fresh eyes.
What makes The Boxer as potent as it is are the performances, especially Daniel Day-Lewis' contained powerhouse. His Danny is a closed-off man, shadowboxing with his private demons, who comes painfully, but gloriously, back to life.
An intelligent, provocative piece of cinema, with something quite bold to say in the Irish context.
A knock-out performance by Daniel Day-Lewis is the highlight of this admirable if rather conventional drama.
We never figure out, though, what drives Day-Lewis' Danny. We just take it on faith that he's stubborn and sick of violence. The filmmakers don't help much, offering just a twist on the star-crossed lovers story, mixed with standard boxing melodrama.
The art-house dream-team pairing of Daniel Day-Lewis and Emily Watson amounts to more of a soft jab than a knockout punch.
In this dull film, poignant characters caught up in histrionics flail with one glove, while much emotional shadowboxing is done with the other.
It still packs a knockout punch thanks to Day-Lewis' typically gutsy performance.
Audience Reviews for The Boxer
A boxer returns from an unjust prison sentence to try to rebuild his life in an Ireland at odds with itself. Lewis carries the picture easily as a man of few words but his scenes with Watson up the ante: watching them communicate when they know it's against the rules but unable to help themselves makes the film. The boxing scenes are good as well.More
Daniel Day-Lewis doing what he does best. The plot is really good as well, dealing with the IRA and a forbidden love between Day-Lewis and an old flame. Also, it seems that Cinderella Man's style and plot points seemed to borrow a lot from this movie, but out of the two, this is definitely the one to see.More
The best part of this movie is that you know DDL was training his ass off and probably could have been a featherweight champion. Watching him jump rope and fight in those matches was great. Then there is the speech that he gives to Watson about jail, it's almost worth the price of admission. Basically, even though the movie is just okay and left me wanting more, you keep watching because of the acting, Brian Cox is great as well. I am on a huge IRA kick here lately.More
It's mainly a hard romance story, set within the story of an ex-boxer making a life out of prison with what he knows amidst the eternal terrorist struggles in Ireland. I don't think Daniel Day-Lewis could play a bad part in a film if he tried, as he easily carries the movie here. Alongside him are a couple of Thomas Harris-universe vets in Emily Watson (Red Dragon) and Brian Cox (Manhunter). As it is, several different things could tear apart a romance already torn apart for 14 years due to a stretch in prison. I've been searching for this movie for the last 10 years, finally found it and was in no way disappointed.More
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