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Tribeca 2017: Chuck

Jason Adams reporting from Tribeca...

Liev Schreiber as "Chuck"

If you just plunked the name “Chuck Wepner” down in front of me and asked me to say what it made me think of I’d say that “Chuck Wepner” sounds like an anagram of vintage TV Personalities – Chuck Woolery from The Love Connection meets Judge Wapner of The People’s Court. And while that might not be the truth so help me god there is a bit of Werner Herzog’s “ecstatic truth” to it – Chuck Wepner is one Vintage Personality...

It turns out that Wepner was a New Jersey boxer who was snatched up from the small leagues to go fourteen rounds with Muhammad Ali in 1975, and in turn got the spirit of his story (the ecstatic truth, if you will) turned into a little something called Rocky. And so Chuck, the new biopic starring an endearingly lunk-headed Liev Schreiber as the Bayonne Bleeder (Chuck’s nickname, which he hated) himself, is then the story of a man wrestling with the stories told about him – both the ones he braggadociously shares at the local bars, and the one stolen away from him by Hollywood and turned into something bigger than he could ever measure up to.

So yes, Chuck is one of those bio-pics about a man finding success and it swallowing him up and spitting him out – the drugs, the sex, the first wife who gets shoved aside by all of it. But then a funny thing happens on the way to those clichés - that first wife is played by Elisabeth Moss and she turns in fine and complicated work (not that we expect any less from her at this point) and, more importantly, the movie makes time for her. And Schrieber gives such a loose and funny and sweet performance in the lead that you really do find yourself rooting for Chuck to get his shit together. He seems as taken back by his bull-crap as any of us. (Naomi Watts also shows up, radiating kindness, for a few scenes.)

And as a bonus, to me anyway, Chuck spends perhaps the most minimal time of any Sports Movie I’ve ever seen inside the actual game it’s portraying – the Ali fight gets its due but Chuck isn’t about landing punches; it’s about who’s there to tape you up at the end of the fight, and those long long stretches in between and after, where the important parts of living happen.

Chuck plays Tribeca at 7:00 PM Sat (4/29), and 4:00 PM Sun (4/30)

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Reader Comments (3)

I'm not a fan of boxing but I find myself drawn to boxing movies; strange right? Great review and I'll be sure to catch this once it's released.

April 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Looking forward to seeing this! The director, Philippe Falardeau, also did the fantastic MONSIEUR LAZHAR, one of my favorite movies in the past several years. He is so, so good at slowly developing a nuanced, three-dimensional central character who's forced to navigate a new reality, and it sounds like "Chuck" plays to these strengths, too.

April 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

I saw scream queen Catherine Corcoran also attended the premiere- who does she play??

May 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNinaG87

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