Today: May 28, 2024
Jack Lowden and Florence Pugh appear in Fighting with My Family by Stephen Merchant, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Fighting With My Family

Professional Wrestling, all fake right? For the love of The Rock never say that to a wrestling fan. But while we’re at it, let’s make it clear, movies are fake as well. You still take endless enjoyment and entertainment out of them. So, what’s the difference? Staging, choreography, dramatics, heroes, villains. See where this is going? Fighting With My Family tells the true story of how a wrestling nobody became one of the icons of the sport. Yes, sport, you want to tell The Rock he’s not an athlete? Good luck with that.

The Knight family are a family obsessed with wrestling. Dad Ricky (Nick Frost) and mum Julia (Lena Headey) have passed their love of the sport onto their kids Zak (Jack Lowden) and Saraya (Florence Pugh). It’s all they know, it’s how they make a living. So when the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc come knocking Zak and Saraya jump at the chance to live the dream. But what they soon learn is the dream never comes for free.

As with most wrestling bouts there is nothing hugely shocking or indeed original in Fighting With My Family. But it’s not the sort of film you really want to break the mould. It ticks the boxes it needs to. Hitting all the right highs and lows at just the right moments to have you beaming for joy at the inevitable ending.

Despite the trailers the film is less interested in the comedy aspects of the story. There are some genuinely funny moments, Nick Frost and Lena Headey in particular determined to steal every one of their scenes with their brash, devil-may-care language and outlook on life. Instead this is very much a story of our time. A film focussing on a woman bucking the trend and redefining a sport almost all by herself.

While it oftens goes through the motions the film is held together by two central performances. Jack Lowden is heartbreaking as Zak, his determination, emotional pull and downtrodden nature are often the most powerful thing the film has to offer. Florence Pugh meanwhile further cements herself as a bonafide modern superstar. Talented, relatable and able to hold the screen against much bigger ‘names’ than her, Pugh’s performance here is captivating and delicate. It’s not going to further her star-metre, but it will assure her as a leading lady for years to come.

A rags to wrestling story that puts a smile on your face before probably forgetting much of what has passed. Not quite a body-slam but certainly a decent clothesline. 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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