Fighting With My Family

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Fighting With My Family
"What comes across more than anything is how the American way dominates." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Families find any excuse to beat the livings out of each other. The fighting in this case is professional, not that it hurts any less, and the family is what they call working-class Norwich, serious about living dangerously, especially in the wrestling ring and behind bars for some.

Dad (Nick Frost} looks like the wild man of the woods with his dread spread of a beard that would hatch baby dragons given half a chance and a Mohican haircut that has lost its reference to Native American culture. He was a star of the local wrestling circuit in the years before his body stopped taking orders. His son Zak (Jack Lowden) knows all the moves and is destined to fill the gap at the top before daughter Saraya (Florence Pugh) zips in with her own style and takes his place on a trip to the US to join a training group backed by The Rock (Dwayne Johnson).

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Zak and Saraya have a running battle for supremacy in the spot, which is not so much an amateur away-day splatter ride in the States as a fully paid up member of the Entertainment Industry for which TV coverage is no longer its secret weapon and gimmicks are accepted as investment opportunities. Rules of play have a tendency to loosen under the seductive influence of what people want. Competition is fierce. Professionalism takes no prisoners. Saraya finds the going tough. Coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn) has left charm in his other trousers.

If decency is a winner he sees it as a con trick. Saraya needs the support of home life. Zak may have been left out in the rain too long, but it’s East coast English rain and that’s what makes the difference.

Like so many movies these days, this one comes with a Based On sticker. Writer/director Stephen Merchant is known for being absurdly tall and collaborating with Ricky Gervais on The Office and Extras. It was The Rock in his exec producer role who saw a doc when he was in the UK about this wrestling family from Norfolk and decided to put a movie together. He came from a wrestling family himself and understood the emotional and practical diversity involved, which is well handled in Merchant’s script. Oddly enough humour is less at the forefront. What comes across more than anything is how the American way dominates. Even the presence of The Rock doesn’t soften its impact. The winner-takes-all slogan dominates. Victims fall by the wayside. Quickly forgotten.

Stay with the family. Stay with Saraya who calls herself Paige now and keeps winning. Will someone buy a DVD of Swingers and send it to Vince Vaughn

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2019
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Fighting With My Family packshot
Saraya is part of a tight-knit Norwich family who scrape a living on the local wrestling scene. Her dream is to become a bright new WWE star. When opportunity knocks, does she have what it takes to make the grade?
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Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant

Starring: Florence Pugh, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Dwayne Johnson

Year: 2018

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK, US

Festivals:

Glasgow 2019

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