Cinderella Man dir. by

Crowe as Braddock with kids

  • – Joe Gould

Based on the true story of James J Braddock. A boxing film. Set during the Depression. Consider all of these things and you may be thinking that this is a sentimental boxer-overcoming-hardship film, and, in a way you’d be right. But Cinderella Man is much, much more than that.

Crowe plays Braddock, a boxer who failed to live up to early promise and who is left in dire straits by the Depression. Not only is he losing matches, but he can’t pay the bills, can’t feed his children. And finally he can’t even get a boxing match anymore.

Then he is given a second chance, a once-off opportunity to fight again. A goodbye match, to go out in style. But the unthinkable happens. He wins.

But it isn’t really the story that matters, after all we have seen these types of stories before. Look at Seabiscuit for example. It is all down to the acting, and Crowe really is great, making you feel for the character od Braddock, and rooting for him to destroy his opponents in a way that a real boxing match never would. Zellweger doesn’t have a huge amount to do, mainly just be the worried wife, but she is very believable in the role. And Giamatti is perfect as the manager.

The matched themselves are very watchable, Howard shows the violence and gore, but also the crowds reactions and on occasion a flash of the internal damage being inflicted. There is, of course, the training montage sequence, but it is kept short and so we’ll allow it.

There is also the odd flash of the wider world and the damage being done to American society, but this is never really looked at, and although Mike (Paddy Considine) may get involved in unions and “fight back” Braddock himself is very much a believer in the American Dream. It was also a bit strange seeing how much stigma was attached to getting relief. I mean these people were starving, their kids being shipped off because parents couldn’t afford to feed them, yet were still reluctant to go get help.

Overall Cinderella Man may be slightly predictable, the “baddie” is overplayed as a baddie, but still it is a very enjoyable film. Full of humour and great acting, never allowing the schmaltz to overwhelm the story and the characters, it is one I’d recommend.

James J Braddock -official site | IMDb | Official site | Maguire’s Review | Guardian Review |

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