FILM REVIEW – Fighting With My Family

Jack Lowden and Florence Pugh appear in Fighting with My Family by Stephen Merchant, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Back in the late 90s and early 2000s when people thought of wrestling it was the spandex wearing man mountains of the WWE.

The idea of the English wrestling scene thriving like it is today was a distant pipedream.

But for the Knight family from Norwich, wrestling is in their blood, with all five members of the family having in-ring experience.

And it is this eccentric family who are subject matter for Stephen Merchant’s directorial debut film Fighting With My Family.

The film explores the real-life story of WWE superstar Paige — real name Saraya-Jade Be­vis – and her journey to the WWE.

Parents Patrick ‘Rowdy Ricky Knight’ (Nick Frost) and Julia ‘Sweet Saraya’ (Lena Headey) are ob­sessed with wrestling, running a local gym and putting on scrappy events. It’s an obsession passed down to their kids in­clud­ing Raya (Flo­rence Pugh) and Zak ‘Zodiac’ (Jack Lowden).

Even though this is a film about wrestling, it is not a wrestling film.

The story of the family dynamic, the pressure put on the children to succeed, sibling rivalry, homesickness are all issues any audience members can relate to.

Even though the film moves at a quick pace, some of the relationships are left unexplored, like Paige’s relationship with her fellow trainees and the relationship with head coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn).

There are a few proper laugh out loud moments – particularly the interaction between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Frost over the phone – but it is the heart of the story which keeps things flowing.

While Pugh is the lead, there are some wooden moments in her performance, but it is Lowden who, as a spectator, you wish would have a bit more camera time and development in his character.