When I saw Russell’s last film, “The Fighter,” the first character I recognized was the setting: Lowell, Mass. Although I’ve spent very little time there, as I watched boxer Micky Ward jog through the streets, greeting the denizens of that small mill town, I remember thinking, “Only in Lowell.”
Russell’s latest film takes us to the great city of Philadelphia. Of cour6se, Philly has long been the domain of another iconic boxer. Well, watch out Rocky. David O. Russell’s latest triumph has his characters Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) sparring up and down the streets, and it is both glorious and painful (in a good way) to watch.
For me as a director, the location of a story reveals everything. If my Philadelphia-born family, and South Jersey- (almost Philadelphia) born wife have taught me anything, it’s that Philadelphians feel and fight with intense fever. They are wild, wonderful people at the mercy of their feelings. That’s why Robert De Niro’s character (the always Raging Bull) has been banned from Eagles Stadium. And why our hero Pat chucks “A Farewell to Arms” out his parents’ attic window. All of these feelings (and fights) are authentically captured throughout the film, and that is a great achievement for a director in any medium.
Benjamin Endsley Klein makes his Broadway helming debut with the new play “Ann,” to open in March.