Fighting With My Family takes itself incredibly seriously, even when it uses seemingly childish and immature humour
In his debut directorial feature, actor and comedian Stephen Merchant has proved just how important a film maker’s vision is when they approach a brand new project. A biopic about a WWE wrestler rising to fame will never lend itself to appearing as a heartfelt look at living a dream, but Merchant has moved the story in such a personal manner, Fighting With My Family becomes one of the most uplifting and interesting features 2019 has offered up so far.
Saraya (Florence Pugh) and Zak (Jack Lowden) are born into a wrestling family with no choice but to love the entertainment of the events. Fighting in their local scene in Norwich, the pair have dreams of one day entering the WWE in America and making it big. Both accepted into the London trial event, the pair are pitted against each other, with Saraya, now known as Paige, the only member of the family accepted into the next round.
Showing a wonderful understanding of what differentiates British wrestling with that of the American style, there’s a wonderful juxtaposition between the way the two countries are represented and filmed. It’s a design choice that enhances the personal side of the film, without distracting from the enormity of the WWE in mainland America. There’s a flow to the film that feels not just natural, but important, and this can only be credited to Merchant’s impressive work across multiple locations, whilst fully understanding what the draw of wrestling is to its most hardcore of fans.
Yet through the impassioned drama, Florence Pugh’s importance to the films success shows itself in her ultimate resilience and thirst for the human nature of the story. As Paige, Pugh brings to life the transition from small time family wrestling to the mainstream nature of the enormous American circuit. Pugh becomes the ultimate survivor, overcoming her battles without hiding how difficult they were to pull off. Fighting With My Family takes itself incredibly seriously, even when it uses seemingly childish and immature humour.
Stemming from Merchant’s initial script, the appreciation for wrestling as entertainment, the understanding of why its fans are so obsessed, and how important it remains for so many resonates from the entire production. This is a quality production about wrestling, for wrestling fans, with the utmost seriousness and genuinely affecting drama, proving even a film featuring Vince Vaughn can be enjoyable if the right creators are behind the camera.
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