Seeing Tommy keep going even after he dislocates his shoulder was really, really painful, almost heart-breaking. I couldn't watch it. And the phone call to Pilar was poignant. The photo of him with Manny, of all things, made me tear up a bit because he was just so happy there! And to see how much pain and anger he was carrying now... Tom managed to give him a lot of depth. He's not all anger and angst, though there's definitely a lot of those. It was saved by the acting, really. Otherwise it would have been rather contrived and typical Hollywood. I'm sure I'm biased, but Tommy got to me. He's so damaged and you just want to help him, somehow. And you feel for Brendan being a human punching bag too. I really think I would have been drawn to Tommy anyway because he's the darker and mysterious character, but it didn't seem like that was the common reaction. Most of the audience seemed to root for Brendan and his family, even some clapping after he won his fights. But it's understandable when a lot of Americans are having to deal with similar situations right now and I guess he can be a sort of underdog hero for them, in the fantasy where a physics teacher has a chance to compete for $5 million so all his money problems will disappear. But I do think Tommy was getting a lot of sympathy too.
The accents were good. My friend couldn't tell that Joel is Australian (she already knew Tom is British), so kudos to them. One thing I was kinda iffy on was how gritty they made some of the shots, especially of Pittsburgh. It had a kind of gray quality to it, like CSI: NY if you've seen that. But talking to someone who hadn't seen any of the interviews and only knew of it from the TV spots and what little I shared, some of the story didn't make it across apparently, like the implication that Paddy had been a violent drunk and abused their mother or that Tommy had been Paddy's focus because of his wrestling.
I was happy that the music was less bombastic in the actual film that the trailer. Just the scene on the beach had a real "face off" feeling to it that was't necessary and the scene would have spoken for itself without the musical cue. Another thing I didn't like, though, was Gavin O'Connor's cameo as the guy organizing the tournament. I don't know why really, but that annoyed me. I'm sure most people wouldn't recognize him, though. And I didn't like Tommy tapping out immediately after Brendan says "I love you." That was too Hollywood sentimentality for me. I would have been fine if it had just been "Stop, Tommy! I love you. You're my brother. I'll share the money with you. Please stop." Just something more than "I love you." It's too...fairytale neat and pretty, like the words that broke the curse.
On a completely superficial level, I was surprised that Tom was only shirtless for the final tournament. He had a tank on at least and usually a hoodie the rest of the time. Damn him. And damn Joel for lying to us about him being shirtless half the time. Lies and misleading trailers!
But it was good. You can really see that it was geared more for Joel being the lead, though. Poor guy. And they cut out a few scenes, including Tommy's Mexican prison intro that we have a set photo for. No Mexican prison now.