Stallone is rarely referred to as a good actor, but judging by his performance in Rocky that's exactly what he is. Unfortunately, after the success of Rocky, the very talents which got him there were washed away in a river of dollar signs, as big budget action films beckoned which required him to flex his muscles, kill lots of people and not a lot else. As he said in a recent interview, "It's been downhill ever since." With Rocky, Sylvester Stallone showed talents for acting and writing, which, after twenty-five years, he has never shown again. Excellent support by Talia Shire, Burt Young and Burgess Meredith secured four acting Oscar nominations for the film, joining wins for Best Film and Best Director. Also a special mention for Bill Conti's score, which is excellent.
Coupled with Stallone's excellent acting is a deep, well developed character. Rocky's tough, fast-talking exterior hiding a kind, simple but na´ve person, presents the audience with a very real character and someone we can all easily relate to. And it's this very human portrait which makes the concluding fight so powerful. He proves to the world - but more importantly to himself - that he really is somebody. It's a classic moment when he is calling out to Adrian after the fight, and when they hug you can see the utter elation on his face. This expression, frozen, is the last image of the film and is a very effective one because it is the moment when he has discovered his true self.
Verdict: Rocky may be about a boxer and the climax a boxing match, but it is a love story at heart and a very powerful one. View it from this perspective and you may well realise what a classic piece of cinema this is.
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