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Review: Liev Schreiber at the height of his game in moving biopic Chuck

Telling the real-life story of New Jersey pugilist Chuck Wepner, the apparent inspiration for Rocky, Falardeau’s film Chuck deftly exploits Liev Schreiber’s balance of brutality and pathos.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Chuck
Written by
Jeff Feuerzeig, Jerry Stahl, Michael Cristofer and Liev Schreiber
Directed by
Philippe Falardeau
Starring
Liev Schreiber, Elisabeth Moss, Ron Perlman and Naomi Watts
Genre
Biopic
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2016

Although he began his career playing cerebral know-it-alls, Liev Schreiber has somehow cornered the market on rough-and-wild bruisers. With his Goon films, his role on Showtime's Ray Donovan, and now the boxing drama Chuck, the 49-year-old nails the low-life archetype: the solitary brawler, the loser, the man who lives to throw, and receive, punches. (Not that Schreiber can't elevate himself when the project calls for it, as evidenced by the Oscar-winning Spotlight.) It's a shame, then, that few will get the chance to witness the actor at the height of his bloodied-and-bruised game in Chuck (a.k.a. The Bleeder, as it was known on the festival circuit), since the film is getting a barely-there theatrical release in English Canada (despite the pedigree of Quebecois director Philippe Falardeau). Telling the real-life story of New Jersey pugilist Chuck Wepner, the apparent inspiration for Rocky, Falardeau's film is a moving, if not earth-shattering, biopic that deftly exploits Schreiber's balance of brutality and pathos. It may not go the distance, but it's surely worth a step into the ring.

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About the Author

Barry Hertz is the deputy arts editor and film editor for The Globe and Mail. He previously served as the Executive Producer of Features for the National Post, and was a manager and writer at Maclean’s before that. His arts and culture writing has also been featured in several publications, including Reader’s Digest and NOW Magazine. More

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