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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Working with others who share conflicting beliefs with your own and who come from different backgrounds to you. Putting your past behind you and starting afresh -- this is met with mixed results in the movie. Bigotry and prejudice based on people's faith are displayed.
Positive Role Models
Danny Flynn is a former member of the Provisional IRA who has just been released from prison after 14 years. He tries to work hard and put his past behind him, while starting a boxing gymnasium for boys of all faiths. However, he can be aloof with people and unconcerned with their points of view. Maggie is loyal to him to a point, but also conflicted. Harry is a current member of the IRA who comes into conflict with Danny due to Danny's plans.
Very little ethnic diversity, non-Irish actors portray Irish characters. Some prominent roles for women, but they are marginalized by the values of the community they represent. Discussion and examples of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants. Characters have differing points of view relating to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
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Violence & Scariness
Scuffles. Threats of physical violence, such as knee-capping and executions. Bloody injury and death from bomb blasts. Injured and dead bodies shown. Explosives and weapons handled. Gunshots fired. Bullet wounds. Character hit with a bottle. Riots, which are suppressed by riot police with batons. Scenes of civil unrest. Arson, leads to a young character catching on fire, but no serious injury. An argument leads to someone receiving a bloody nose. Boxing bouts -- some involving kids -- lead to some bloody injuries, black eyes, and other swelling and bruising. Assault with baseball bats.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
While dancing a character places their hand beneath their partner's clothes. Ring girl works at a boxing match in a swimsuit, some wolf-whistling. Kissing.
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Language used includes "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "shite," "arse," and "hell." "Jesus Christ" and "God" used as exclamations.
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Products & Purchases
Character receives an envelope of money at their wedding. Another character is heavily motivated by money. Boxing bouts take place at society functions in luxurious surroundings.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink socially and also smoke cigarettes. One character drinks heavily and to excess. It is implied that they are living with alcohol addiction. Character has their arm checked for track marks to see if they have been injecting drugs. Reference to "junkies."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Boxer is a powerful drama set in Northern Ireland during the final years of the "The Troubles" with sectarian violence and strong language. When former Provisional IRA member Danny Flynn (Daniel Day-Lewis) returns home after 14 years in prison, he reconnects with his former girlfriend Maggie (Emily Watson) but also stokes tensions within his local community. Set during a turbulent period in Northern Ireland, there are conflicts about the peace process and scenes of violence, intimidation, and political unrest. There are multiple bloody injuries and deaths because of this, in addition to bloody boxing bouts which Danny competes in as part of an attempt to return to his own life. There is frequent strong language including variants of "f--k." There are also some scenes of smoking and drinking, and brief discussions of drug use and addiction. Danny's trainer, Ike (Ken Stott), drinks to excess with the suggestion being that he is living with an alcohol disorder. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This <ahem> hard-hitting drama was released in 1997, a year before the historic Good Friday Agreement helped significantly advance the Northern Irish peace process. Thankfully, as a result of that treaty, The Boxer paints a bleaker picture than what would later transpire in real life. Led by a typically committed performance from Day-Lewis, the method actor reportedly trained as a boxer for more than two years as part of his preparation, to the point where the former pros who helped him claimed he could've competed at the top level if he had wanted. This matches the equally uncompromising approach that the movie takes to portraying a community drama against the backdrop of "The Troubles" in 1990s Northern Ireland.
Day-Lewis' portrayal of Danny is one of mostly quiet intensity, with the boxing bouts that he competes in meticulously shot and acted as Danny tries to begin the long road to redemption. Undoing this good work slightly is a script that never quite gives its hugely talented supporting cast much to do. Emily Watson is a capable love interest, but like Ken Stott's turn as Danny's trainer, Ike, and Brian Cox as an aging high-ranking IRA member, her performance isn't able to do much more than elevate what on paper are characters we've seen before, regardless of the setting. These are relatively minor complaints, though. Despite the limitations of its script, this story about violent men and the cycles of death and destruction that repeat themselves has dialogue that feels grounded in the real world. And it always carries a convincing air of dread and menace, with its punishing boxing bouts serving the story as more than a punch-drunk metaphor.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.