CHUCK (101 R)
A drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner.
Director: Philippe Falardeau
Writers: Jeff Feuerzeig, Jerry Stahl
Stars: Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Liev Schreiber
Closed captioning available.
Philippe Falardeau is not the best known among the group of Quebecois filmmakers making a big splash in mainstream English language film. Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée are better known and have bigger film credits.
But Falardeau, whose 2011 film Monsieur Lazhar earned a well-deserved best-foreign-language Oscar nomination, is as good as any of them and his latest, Chuck, is the proof.
Based on a true story, the film follows New Jersey palooka Chuck Wepner, who finds himself, as the only white guy on the shortlist, in the unlikely position of fighting Muhammad Ali. (His nickname, the Bayonne Bleeder, is a source of considerable personal pain.)
But life isn’t meant to be kind to such a flawed figure. Chuck has a wife who loves him but has a wandering eye, and life post-fame leads him into a party lifestyle that will be his undoing.
Liev Schreiber is top-notch in the lead role in this funny, sad and warm cautionary tale.
– Bruce Demara, Toronto Star