By Anna Husted EBS FILM CRITIC
“Fighting with my Family” is the best kept secret of 2019. An independent film written and directed by one of the tallest men in the industry, Britain’s Stephen Merchant, looming large at 6 feet 7 inches, “Fighting with my Family” is simply fantastic and has made its way easily into my top 20 films of the year.
Based on a true story, “Fighting with my Family” is about the Knight family and their relationship with wrestling. Ricky and Julia Knight, played by Nick Frost and Lena Headey, respectively, have raised two kids with aspirations of becoming professional wrestlers in their little town in England. When the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) crews come to London, both of their kids, Zak and Saraya, played by Jack Lowden and Florence Pugh, are given the opportunity to try out, but only Saraya, who goes by the wrestling name “Paige,” makes the cut.
“Fighting with my Family” is a coming-of-age film about Saraya and Zak grappling with their own and each other’s successes. While Saraya heads off to Miami to train with the best WWE coaches, played by the charming Vince Vaughn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zak keeps coaching his own group of ragtag kids in England, including teaching a blind boy how to fight.
The Knight family dynamics are cleverly written, realistic and entertaining; each has their unique relationship with each other and their unique wrestling style to match.
While Saraya struggles to fit into the world of “model” wrestling, Zak’s insecurities about his dreams of fighting in the WWE haunt him, and the rapport between these two siblings is shaky, yet tender. They care deeply about each other, which manifests in jealousy—albeit a common phenomenon in the world of siblinghood.
But the film also comes with a dose of reflection on personal values and giving people a chance to show more than what meets the eye; Saraya is surrounded by older women who are strong but possess the classic attributes of “sexy,” whereas she has an unrefined Norwich, England, accent, dark hair and is shorter than your typical model. She immediately feels left out but realizes that she didn’t give the other women a chance either and only assumed they didn’t understand her struggles.
“Fighting with my Family” is just a darn good film: It’s entertaining from start to finish, with some fun cameos, witty writing and its focus on themes of family in a non-conventional, non-sappy way. Watch “Fighting with my Family.” You will not be disappointed.
“Fighting with my Family” is available to rent on YouTube or Amazon. It is also available at Bozeman Public Library.
Anna Husted has a master’s in film studies from New York University. In Big Sky she can be found hiking a mountain or at the movies at Lone Peak Cinema. When not gazing at the silver screen or watching her new favorite TV show, she’s reading, fishing or roughhousing with her cat, Indiana Jones.
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