Cinderella Man (2005)

130.

★★★

Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Cliff Hollingsworth, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger and Craig Bierko

A Cinderella story with an uppercut.

As a contender in the action-drama boxing genre, Cinderella Man shifts its weight between history and sentiment, occasionally dealing satisfactory punches with Russell Crowe’s portrayal of 1930’s boxer, James Braddock.

James Braddock was living comfortably until the Depression hit him harder than any fighter he’d seen in the boxing ring. With his wife, Mae (Zellweger), and his three children, Braddock faces the cold reality of poverty, hunger, and unemployment during a time when the American nation itself was downtrodden. After struggling to put food on the table and working on the docks for little pay, Braddock gets back into the ring with a new found strength. But with success comes higher stakes and tougher opponents, making Braddock’s comeback a potential threat to his life and family’s future.

Cinderella Man‘s telling of  James Braddock’s life and career is played relatively straightforward. The plot development mirrors many boxing films before it, playing the underdog card with everything it’s got and relying on its inspirational power for appeal. This is not to say that Cinderella Man isn’t compelling drama. The direction of Braddock’s boxing matches weave in and out of Braddock’s memory, sensory, and emotional experiences with a clear build up to the climactic final match. It isn’t a K.O, but at the very least, Cinderella Man is O.K.

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