From Rose - The Best of the French Reviews for CM:
Most articles sum up the story of Braddock and emphasize how much a symbol ,and an example he was for the working classes during the Depression. For some reviewers " this dimension give an interesting deepness to the film"
Many of them say: it's a "classical" movie (it can be a praise or not, depends who is writing), full of "goods feelings" (some approve, others dislike it ), with "terrific boxing scenes". Regarding the cast, many praise Russell and Giamatti, some dislike Renée Z. All in all, it's positive but not raving ... especially regarding the script, the lines and the direction.
After summing up, with positive terms, Russell's path as an actor , it says :
" Braddock is an impossible role , so it's a role for him.
He plays a broken man, coming from the working-class but the antipodean
farmer can make it believable. The physical challenge is 3 or 4 times
harder than for "Gladiator". This time, he loses 10 kilos
and 10 years. His shoulder is dislocated and the shoot is postponed(…)but
Crowe doesn't want to deceive his coach Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali's
former coach, who teaches him how to move and take a lot of beating.
As Braddock, Crowe does much but never too much. During the last
scene of the film, Crowe kisses Dundee's head whose reply is said
to have been : " You're the number 16". That means
the 16 th world champion he has trained. Who could say better ?"
2. From the movies magazine Ciné-Live:
" Under his academic exterior, Ron Howard is an oddity. He made movies with sirens, with astronauts who have a problem, with badly dressed dwarves or worried firemen or Oscar-worthy schizophrenic ; he jumps from one subject to another, from science-fiction to western , from a bland biopic to a crazy story about some synthetic green fur. Nobody would be surprised if he did it on purpose. He hasn't made a box movie yet ? No problem. "Cinderella man" based on a true story which looks like a Franck Capra's fairy tale ,is Howard's own "Raging Bull". (…)The has-been boxer Braddock is in the depths of poverty but he still has a secret weapon : his family. "When we stay together, nothing bad can happen to us " he says to his chilled to the bone family, during the cold winter in New Jersey .To pay the electricity bill , he takes his cap and goes to beg some help from those who knew him during his glorious days . His dignity makes us weep.
Sixty years ago, James Stewart would have played the role…after
a strong training period in a weights room.
In a few words: "Ron Howard poaches on Franck Capra's territory and give us the humanistic story of a boxing champion tightened in the net of the Great Depression .A very classical film completely transcended by Russell Crowe's terrific performance."
-"The quality of this film comes from the sincerity of the feelings : the director and his actors believe in their characters and make them very captivating. Russell Crowe plays, with a great simplicity a very upright man : the scene where he makes his son to give back the sausage he had stolen is a true little jewel. A great moral beauty lies in this film"(Le Figaro)
-"Another boxing film again ! No! don't miss this wonderful film" which gives you faith in life and the human being" as its director, Ron Howard, says.(…)Inspiring story, beautiful images, great human story and a deeply moving performance by Russell Crowe".(Point de Vue)
"Ron Howard has adopted a simple direction to tell us this unusual story. He seems to have been mostly fascinated by Russell Crowe new composition. Metamorphosed, embracing this new role, the actor helps this (too)bland biopic to overcome its slowdowns ,as well as Paul Giamatti who delivers a very good performance." (Studio magazine)