fighting with my family
DIRECTOR: stephen merchant (cemetery junction)
STARRING: florence pugh, jack lowden, vince vaughn, and nick frost
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.
I've been too quite a few film previews and the other people that attend generally go to a lot of films as well. I can't quite remember the last time an audience at a preview has responded so raucously to a film. The cinema was shaking with laughter which was interspersed with spontaneous applause. Fighting with My Family is the feel good, gut busting hilarious film of the year.
Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for the WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her loved ones behind and face this new cutthroat world alone. Paige's journey pushes her to dig deep and ultimately prove to the world that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star.
Sure Fighting with My Family has all the hallmarks of a great inspirational sports movie. Athlete comes from nothing and eventually dominates on the world stage. But even though its got those fist pumping in the air moments, its about so much more than sport.
Its about family, fame, and fortune. The Bevis family (Dad, Mum, Paige and Zak) are all wrestlers. They put on little shows all throughout Norwich and run a wrestling programme for troubled youth. And theres another part to the family puzzle - close knit community. We see how this family, this community love and support each other, even when they have very little materially to give.
But its also about fame and fortune, a theme that Merchant has readily explored in his projects with Ricky Gervais The Office and Extras. The relationship between Paige and Zak; the elation of Paige getting selected to go to and try out for WWE in contrast with Zak getting rejected is a relationship, a dynamic, and theme that is central to Fighting with My Family.
Paige is over the moon to have been excepted to try out but has to deal with the guild of Zak not getting chosen, of being different to the other girls trying out, and having to deal with the intense loneliness from being separated from her friends and family.
Zak, on the other hand, has had his dreams shattered. He has always dreamed of being a WWE wrestler and not only is that gone, but his sister has got the chance to fulfil his dream. He spirals out of control, drinking heavily and trying to start fights where he can.
But through his family and friends he realises that he doesn't have to have fame and fortune to matter, but that his work with the disaffected youth is making a difference in the world.
This is a real ensemble piece and every part is perfect. But Florence Pugh is out of this world outstanding and leads this cast with the ease of a pro despite her relatively short years in the industry. Every time she's on screen she completely commands the screen.
Fighting with My Family wouldn't have worked without the right actor in the role of Zak. Following on from his great work in Dunkirk and Mary Queen of Scots, Jack Lowden carves out a performance thats both filled with anger and disappointment and kindness.
Fighting with My Family is the feel good, gut busting hilarious film of the year.