The Boxer (USA/Ireland, 1997)

The_boxer_posterDirected by: Jim Sheridan. In my search for films dealing with the Troubles of Northern Ireland, this one somehow evaded my radar until I discovered it in the aisles of my local independent videostore. Many of the world’s leading actors at the moment happen to hail from Ireland, and this film demonstrates that fact with Daniel Day-Lewis, Brian Cox, and the (sorely) underrated Gerard McSorley. It also features Emily Watson with a very credible accent (at least to Canadian ears), giving a very impressive performance. The acting all around is genuinely really amazing to watch. There are so many layers of emotion, restraint, resentment, love, hate, and confusion floating around, in every relationship in the movie, not just in the main romance, that it really feels like something genuine, not something that was staged for a movie. That being said, there is definitely a kind of stylized silence, a really deliberately dark, overcast pall over the whole movie, which I seem to see in a lot of Irish and British films, but which seems particularly effective for this story. To make the inevitable, if unfair, contrast to a similarly themed movie that I just saw recently—Five Minutes of Heaven—I would say that The Boxer has a simplicity, an elegance, and a depth that has the potential to attain classic status as it becomes (hopefully) discovered and appreciated in the decades to come.

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