Fighting With My Family is the heartwarming story of Saraya-Jade Bevis, aka Paige (Florence Pugh), who earns the chance to achieve her dream — shared by her whole family — of wrestling in the WWE.
While choreographed fighting may not be for everyone — what’s the point if it’s scripted? How do they decide who wins? — the film is perfectly catered to wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. This is because its main strength lies in its portrayal of family dynamics and the emotional challenges of attaining your dreams, or coming to terms with missing out on them. It is with the latter that the film packs an emotional punch, notably through Zak (sensitively portrayed by Jack Lowden) who struggles with conflicting pride and jealousy as he watches his sister fulfil his lifelong ambitions. At times this makes for a stressful watch, but luckily British comedy legend Stephen Merchant as writer and director ensures that many hearty laughs are intertwined with the drama (and the appearance of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is bound to put smiles on many faces).
While it is of course dramatised, and the plot streamlined, Fighting With My Family is a biographical film which tells the true story of an all- wrestling family from Norwich. This almost excuses it from falling into the usual clichés of a sports underdog story. In fact, the main corniness comes from the dialogue about being yourself, even if you are just a ‘freak from Norwich.’
The film is also a great example of female empowerment and strength, with Paige being an all-round badass, as well as featuring a positive twist on the Mean Girls (2004) trope of bitchy women. In real life, Paige’s influence on women’s wrestling has been positive for issues of women’s sport, especially in relation to the minimal coverage and pay received in comparison to that of men. Controversy in 2015 sparked a Women’s/Divas Revolution, with Paige at the forefront. While this didn’t take place in the period covered by the film, this could have been elaborated on in the film’s ‘where are they now’ ending.
Fighting With My Family has a perfect balance of comedy and emotion, and it should be no surprise that Florence Pugh excels in her role. By the end of the film even the biggest wrestle-sceptic might fancy a Royal Rumble…
Image: Anton via Wikimedia Commons.