The typical “British film” is usually obvious from the outset, it is either a period drama, a rom-com or a “feel good” film. But a new category has emerged over the last few years that is more specific and usually involves a discipline of some sort such as singing, dancing or a sport. Fighting With My Family is of this ilk. It is about being the underdog, overcoming prejudice and yes, it is also about family, oh and wrestling. Being obsessed with wrestling and doing whatever it takes to make it to the top.
The Knight Family are the Wrestling Association of Norwich, not part of it, they are it. Hosting fight nights between themselves as well as the few other wrestling enthusiasts in Norwich, when Zak and Saraya get the chance to audition for WWE but only Saraya is picked, a rift begins between the siblings. Cut off from her family and struggling to fit in with the other wrestlers in the US, Saraya has to make a choice whether this is really what she wants and can she overcome her fear and become a champion.
Based on the real Paige, WWE professional wrestler’s story, that was originally a documentary shown on Channel 4 in 2012. The story has all the elements of biographical sports comedy drama, British wrestler makes dreams come true in America. But Stephen Merchant doesn’t make this story all about being an unlikely underdog or a fairy tale come true, thankfully there is wit in the dialogue, some lifted directly from the documentary and the comedy is actually funny and uplifting. With the right balance, the film doesn’t fall under at the dramatic moments, such as when Paige is feeling overwhelmed and isolated or when she and Zak have an argument about him stealing his dreams. In fact, it feels more like a family drama as the they are close knit and share so much more in common than the average family.
Florence Pugh who impresses with every role she takes on is brilliant and understated as Paige. She manages to stand out for the right reasons, bringing heart and soul to the character and doing the real Paige justice in her portrayal. Some might over look this film as just another feel good film but underneath the costumes and spotlights there is a great story about family, passion and being able to go that extra mile.
Dir: Stephen Merchant
Prd: Kevin Misher, Dany Garcia, Michael J. Luisi, Stephen Merchant, Dwayne Johnson
Scr: Stephen Merchant
Cast: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn
DoP: Remi Adefarasin
Music: Vik Sharma, Graham Coxon
Country: UK, USA
Running time: 108 minutes