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Sundance 2019 Film Review: “Fighting with My Family” (2019) ★★★★


To have a dream sometimes is not enough for it to come true. Determination, passion, strong will, and hard work, if not hardship, is required to achieve results. But when it comes to the world of wrestling, bravery, tireless effort, and non-stop training is required to get something done. It’s not that easy for a man, and imagine how difficult it can be for a woman. The true story told in “Fighting with My Family” is motivational, inspiring, and can be served as proof as to why family support is key to working towards one’s goals.

Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) is a teenage girl who, just like her entire family, is obsessed with wrestling. When the family has nothing else to do, and even if they do, wrestling is how they spend their days. Her parents (Lena Headey and Nick Frost) are busy scheduling one wrestling match after another for Zak and Saraya, who dream to become professional wrestlers one day. Once WWE sees their matches, they invite the two to audition for coach Hutch (Vince Vaughan). Shortly after, it’s Saraya who gets an invite to join WWE in Las Vegas to realize that the skills she had and physical readiness is nothing in comparison with what the real world of athletes demand.

 It is such fun to watch how Paige, Zak (Jack Lowden), or her parents wrestle each other. By looking at them, it is easy to see the fire in their eyes. They are energized, creative, and so damn funny. Zak and Paige’s bond is strong. They read each other and understand one another’s needs. But that delicate relationship will be challenged when Saraya gets an invite but Zak doesn’t. From the moment when Paige leaves Britain, she tries to maintain her persona, but realizes it would be hard to do so, especially due to the other female wrestlers, so she steps into another persona that does not quite deliver who Saraya is. But all that is an additional challenge for Saraya who must learn how to overcome every obstacle, fear, and insecurity before writing an impressive history.

First of all, the choreography in the film is flawless. While it’s based on a true story of Paige and her family, the film manages to deliver that adorable atmosphere the family shares, the unity and uplifting attitude that helped to cheer for Paige all the time. The recreated fighting scene between Paige and A.J. Lee must not be missed. As for the performance, Florence Pugh as Paige is phenomenal. Vince Vaughan’s portrayal of coach Hutch is admirable and positive. It’s the beautiful and subtle chemistry of Pugh and Lowden that will make your heart melt.

In the end, written and directed by Stephen Merchant, this is an excellent and full-of-fun biography sport drama that has reserved a big gift for viewers that must be unwrapped during the screening. That gift is full of joy, positivity, inspiration, emotionally charged wrestling scenes, and the message  that why giving up should never be an option.

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