carlfitzgerald
7th March 2019

Review: Fighting With my Family

Stephen Merchant’s dramedy about a Norwich born WWE superstar succeeds through its wholesome heart and a fantastic lead performance from Florence Pugh
Review: Fighting With my Family
Photo: Miguel Discart @ flickr.com

Fighting With my Family is one of those rare success story movies in which success doesn’t take centre ring. In telling the story of WWE superstar Paige, many audiences may go in expecting a straight up comedy. Instead, it’s more of a drama that has funny moments in it. While the Rocky-esque rise to fame is certainly present, at its heart the film is a story about finding validation both within yourself and those around you.

From the opening moments of the film, we’re presented with the early stages of Paige’s relationship with her parents and brothers. It’s an unconventional family for sure, with two parents being former offenders and one of two brothers being in prison. What brings them all together is a shared passion for watching and participating in professional wrestling. It’s a wholesome family dynamic in which regardless of what troubles they may go through, this connection allows them an outlet to stand by and support each other. Meanwhile, Nick Frost and Lena Headey give tremendous performances with terrific chemistry as Paige’s mother and father.

Wrestling comes to bring the family together, but it also tests their dynamic, especially when Paige is chosen over her brother Zack to advance in WWE trials. This conflict provides some darker moments as Zack comes to terms with losing out on his dream and recognising meaning in his life at home beyond those aspirations. All the while Paige must contend with being thousands of miles away from home for try-outs and struggling to fit in as an outcast from Norwich alongside her opponents in the competition. These two opposing character arcs ultimately provide the basis of the entire film. Sure, success and becoming WWE champion is great, but it’s also important to be chasing that success for the right reasons and to maintain strong relationships with those alongside — and even against you — in the process.

Florence Pugh does an outstanding job as Paige, giving the character a unique range of obvious strength and determination whilst also allowing her to be vulnerable and validated for it when she needs to be. In fact, Stephen Merchant’s script makes a wise decision to not fall down familiar cliché conflicts of the genre. When Paige seriously considers giving up, her parents are ambivalent to let her at first, but decide to respect their daughter’s decision no matter what. Similarly, there’s some conflict at the start between her and other girls in the WWE tryouts and instead of having a grand moment of rubbing it in their faces when she succeeds, the film shows both sides learning to respect and validate one another.

There’s also a solid amount of laughs alongside the heavier material. The Rock brings his usual charm to a brief appearance and Nick Frost is charismatic as ever. It all goes nice enough alongside the drama to make a heart-warming look into fame and family life.

 

3.5/5.


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