After seeing this movie I have a whole new respect for Russell Crowe as an actor, as well as for Rene Zellweger's unlimited talent to play just about any character. Russell Crowe gave an exemplary performance as Jim Braddock, and obviously put quite a lot of work into making his boxing look believable, even immitating Braddock's style. Paul Giamatti, who plays the boxer's coach, really hit the nail with this one as well, in his energetic, cheeky portrayal of the real Joe Gould. In this movie about a struggling boxer during the Depression, you find hope and courage as the character struggles against all odds. It's essentially a 'triumph of the underdog' kind of movie, being less about boxing than it is about miracles. All the actors possess depth and character that keeps you there with them while you hope for the best in their circumstances. The movie is excellent in keeping a tight, exciting, and emotional storyline alive throughout. A true story, with Ron Howard's flair for directing.
Apparently Jim Braddock's family sat around the ring watching the filming of some of the scenes, and testified to Crowe's talent for his portrayal. Jim Braddock's grandaughter is in the movie as well, playing Braddock's friend's wife, Sara Wilson. All in all a must see, even if you don't like boxing (which I don't).