By Honey Gillard
QUESTION: What do you get when you put Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti in a boxing ring during the Great Depression and get ‘A Beautiful mind’s director Ron Howard directing? ANSWER: A truly splendid Cinderella story, full of strength, ambition, sacrifice, love and morality – ‘Cinderella Man’.
Set to the backdrop of the sympathetic Great Depression, ‘Cinderella Man’ tells the fact-based story of a common hero and former boxing sensation James J. Braddock (Russel Crowe) – aka Cinderella Man who loses all his possessions and savings with the crash of the stock market. His beloved wife Mae Braddock (Renee Rellweger) and their 3 children are put through starvation and heating deprivation, as well as many other challenges supported by their love. James is broken-down, beaten-up and out-of-luck, he’s career appears to have reached it’s end, he’s struggling to pay the bills and now the only thing that matters to him – his family – is in danger. In 1934, when Jim’s former coach and manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) offers him a chance to return to boxing, he becomes the symbol of hope for hopeless people in a ruined nation.
“Adversity cause some men to break, others to break records’’ is the key theme to this moving movie.
On first impression, this movie would appear as a boxing film, with it’s over-dramatised boxing scenes and with a plot line revolving around boxing, but it is much more than that. The artificial and exaggerated boxing scenes are there to show how much James would sacrifice for his family; how much he would put himself through both mentally and physically for them. It adds greatly to the impact and emotion of the story.
Whilst over-viewing the movie’s cast and pondering upon whether there could have been actors who would have portrayed the characters more efficiently, my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of anyone apart from Russel Crowe, Miss Renee Zellweger and ‘Big Fat Liar’s Paul Giamatti. I was left barely with the thought that Russell Crowe is the ‘Gladiator’ of this movie – triumphing and laughing in poverties face.  Whoever chose the cast done a hell of a good job. Russel Crowe depicts Jim Braddock so greatly and closely you start calling Russel Crowe, James Braddock, it just sticks in your mind. Within the first 10 minutes you already feel emotionally connected to Jim. Both moving and formulaic, this boxing saga is buoyed by Russell Crowe’s often outstanding performance.
There is a scene contained in the movie where a man is about to turn off the heating and electricity of the Braddock family’s home. This scene to me shows the hieght of the desperatiuon the Braddock family is in. During the movie there is also a scene where Mae goes to visit Joe’s house and she sees that he has sold many of his possessions, in order to pay James; in order to pay him to fight, to help the Braddock family. It is a chief scene of hope and shows that there is faith and support for the underdog, which is perhaps the primary motive behind this novel – the little guy can come out on top.
Howard, who previously collaborated with Crowe on the Oscar-winning ‘A Beautiful Mind’, lets ‘A Cinderella Man’ out into the public eye with a confident hand, as it guides us through boxer James J. Braddock’s back story. A story that had all the makings for a lengthy sob story, which was lengthened by wanton flourishes that screenwriter Akiva Goldsman adds to provide further drama and tissue-material for Braddock’s story – in true ‘Hollywood’ spirit..
This movie leaves you with a glimpse of hope, that you can overcome anything if you just believe and never give up, you can reach that star that seems so distant in the sky. This movie is definitely a good one to catch if you’re feeling a little un-inspired or unlucky or if you are just into moral stories about the underdog – or boxing for that matter. It will make you value all those smaller things in life and show you that things could in fact be worse. So get out there and find the ‘Cinderella Man’ inside yourself and at your local video store.

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To read more about this fairy-tale film of triumph and adversity visit: IMDB

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