Fighting with My Family: Review by @Kush_Hayes
Dwayne The Rock Johnson is doing what a good producer does, what a good writer does, and thats create content about what he knows about. When it came to the Bevis family, or more properly, formally known as The Knight Family in the UK, he could only relate to that universal life that is Professional Wrestling.
This movie is about a girl born into a life she didnt necessarily want, but because she was the best at it, receives an opportunity to advance to the next plateau.
Stephen Merchant, the creator behind the international hit series The Office was burdened with writing and directing this biopic of Saraya Bevis, and I dont know how he did his homework, but his movie here is just fantastic. Without making a mockery of it, he managed to get all the small details that one deals with in the independent pro wrestling world. You feel like you’re in the small auditorium with our main characters and their audience of 20 people. You feel elated for them with the few cheers the audience gives our two main characters as they go about performing in front of them at the age of 12 and 13.
This movie is based on a 45 minute TV Documentary from the UK called “The Wrestlers: Fighting with my Family” and I would say that only the first 20 minutes of this movie are derived from that chronicle. As documentaries on the industries go, it should be held up there with documentaries as “Wrestling with Shadows”, “Beyond the Mat” and HBOs doc on Andre the Giant.
After those 20 minutes, then we get into another level of Paiges story. We see the average struggle that it takes to be the next WWE superstar, or Diva in her case. We see that not only have experienced Pro Wrestlers are in try-outs but performers from other walks of life just trying to succeed there as well.
Most of Paiges story for this movie is about her deciding to be who she wants to be after being what others have wanted to be for all her life. She learns team work. She learns not only how to properly train with others, but how to train others.
Then another part of her story is the life shes left behind in the UK. Her brother, who everyone, including herself thought would be in WWE, copes with the realization he isnt ment for the life and struggles with being just the Big Fish in the Small Pond, as he raises a child he isnt providing for the life he promised he would.
One negative I have about this film is that while showcasing that Pro Wrestling is very much a performance and showing the general audience “how the sausage is made” as The Rock puts it, its only in the very final moment that it treats pro wrestling as a competition. Thats all Im going to write about that for there.
Everyone in this film is stellar. Nick Frost (The Cornetto Trilogy) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones, Dredd) are fantastic as Ricky and Julia Knight. While the two have a small carney showcasing, they are presented as two parents who want their child to succeed for all the right reasons. You wish you had more scenes of them in the film. Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) while displaying scenes of jealousy that the character had in real life, is presented as a likable guy whose community looks up to.
While a relative newcomer to the film scene, Florence Pugh, who’s biggest film arguable here in the US is The Commuter, owns the character of Paige. Shes nervous when needed. Shes tough when she has to be. Awkward when the scene calls for it. I dont know who would have been better to play the role of the Diva who helped change the face of Womens Professional Wrestling. I think she flat out kills it.
I think this is a better movie than Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler. While that was not any one particular persons story, it was one story that was just all doom and gloom and had no up side; nothing to look forward to. This movie flirts with the knowledge that there is a dark life within pro wrestling, but decides to focus on how it positively affects peoples lives.
Fighting with my Family made me appreciate this sport again, and nostalgic for a life I once experienced.
Five out of Six Blueberries.
Fighting WIth My Family is Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content.
To see the original UK documentary “The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family”: Click here!
To see the Paiges WWE Debut: Click here and Click here to see the Aftermath of that moment.
To see the WWE mini-doc on Paiges retirement: Click here.