Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward in The Fighter, David O Russell’s Oscar-nominated true story about 90s boxer Micky. His relationship with Dicky Eklund, his half-brother (Christian Bale) is strained. He’s a former boxer and has become addicted to crack. However, he finally confronts his demons after a TV documentary about him begins. We see Micky and Dicky going around.
This documentary actually existed. It was directed by Maryann Farrell and Richard Farrell and titled High on Crack Street – Lost Lives in Lowell. It was broadcast on US TV in 1995. Now it is available online for free.
Watching High on Crack Street after seeing The Fighter is a fascinating, discomfiting experience, one that raises questions about how “reality” is reshaped into cinema fiction. This documentary is a sort of “B-side” to The Fighter. Maybe The Fighter is The B-side to High On Crack Street.
These films offer very different contexts. David O Russell’s film places Dicky, the desperate drug-addict/sinker, in the context of a hopeful and positive comeback story. It seems at first that Dicky is keeping Micky back and Micky is allowing it to happen out of tragically misguided loyalty. It’s not the way it works. Micky needs his family more than he thinks.
DeLeo and Farrell present Dicky’s story in a film that is not accurate. However, the film was made in 1995 and is therefore more relevant than the 2010 version. Russell may have 15 years of additional perspective. Dicky’s other characters are not his brother and family, although they do appear. Instead, Dicky is surrounded by two other addicts who show up at the squalid Crackhouse where Dicky spends his nights and days. Brenda, a pregnant prostitute without front teeth, flies in and out rehab to pay her addiction and for her upcoming abortion. The 1995 price tag is $395 and there’s no free cover. Boo Boo Boo is her crack-user boyfriend, an amiable, hopeless, and bloated goof. Brenda is sharper than Dicky and Boo Boo, with a despairingly lucid insight about her addiction. This is not a hopeful “comeback” story.
Lowell: High on Crack Street
This HBO film documents daily life in Lowell, Massachusetts for crack addicts. It was shot over 18 months. Lowell, Massachusetts’ fourth largest city, has a population that exceeds 108,861. It also houses Mickey Ward, a former professional boxer. Dickey is prominently featured throughout the film, as he struggles to overcome a crack addiction. The film “The Fighter”, starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, was about Mickey Ward’s life and the events that were documented in this documentary.