Boasting extraordinary performances that are by turns devastatingly poignant and vigorously uplifting, this debut feature is a confident and auspicious step into the boxing film arena. Director Eddie OFlaherty has conceived a sophisticated study of first big breaks and emotional last chances, and filmed in a moody, atmospheric style that is completely engrossing.
Lonely and in poor health, former boxer Marty Goldberg attempts to return to the ring as a trainer. Fate seems to lead him to Tommy, a young man with raw talent as a fighter, but who is plagued by his past, on the verge of losing the woman he loves, and worn down by destructive behavior. The process takes time, but the persistent and insightful Marty eventually persuades Tommy to take himself and his ability seriously; in return, Tommy helps his trainer to feel connected and valued, sensations that he had long since abandoned for lost.
They develop both personal and professional bonds as the restless Tommy gains a father figure and turns all the right heads in the fight world, but their successes are soon threatened by the return of a painful secret from Marty's past. Touching, tragic, and inspirational in equal measure, fighting tommy riley tells a fateful tale of trust, empathy, and partnership, and of two people struggling to find their places in the world.