27th Feb2019

‘Fighting With My Family’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Florence Pugh, Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, Jack Lowden, Nick Frost | Written and Directed by Stephen Merchant


In a year with such upcoming hotly anticipated features from the likes of cinematic creators and auteurs Jordan Peele, Greta Gerwig, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, James Gray, Harmony Korine and Terrence Malick to just name a few, it would surprise many to state that writer-director Stephen Merchant’s Fighting With My Family arguably achieves, and will undoubtedly hold, this year’s greatest utilisation of actors – and ultimately performances – to grace cinema screens and we are only two months into the year!

Based on the life and charismatic family of WWE diva champion Paige, Fighting With My Family is an unblemished delightful romp from start to finish. A lively and charming hallmark feature from Stephen Merchant: a feature thoroughly endearing with a razor sharp and sparkling droll screenplay from Merchant, who’s writing superbly feeds both dramatic poignant prowess and outstanding subtle humour in sequences that resonate in total visceral rousing incitement – not only similar to that of Merchant’s greatest past comedic exploits in The Office and Extras but also the dramatically romanticised fodder of the vastly underrated Cemetery Junction.

The performances on offer in Fighting With My Family are absolutely outstanding, with a defining superb trio of Florence Pugh, Lena Headey and Jack Lowden. With every latest feature and the resulting performance Lowden participants in he crafts something distinctively individual and unique. He is spectacularly unrecognisable here as Zak Zodiac, as he was in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and as famed Smiths frontman Morrisey in This Is England. He wrestles (pardon the pun) with the films dramatic weight with what seems like convincing ease and brings forth a deeply compelling narrative that dives into a tricky topic of mental health in cinema, but the result is level-headed and captivating turn.

Florence Pugh in the leading role of Saraya Knight, aka WWE superstar Paige, is delightfully superb; continuing her ongoing evolution as a tremendous performer and talent in the making after her breakout critically acclaimed role in Lady Macbeth, directed by William Oldroyd and released in 2016. Pugh crafts such a charismatic and endearing turn as wrestling dedicatee Paige. The passion Pugh conveys is tremendously contagious with a radiant contumaciousness that oozes chaotic embellished fun.

Speaking of the cast, at this point in her career is there truly anything that Lena Headey can’t do as a performer? The sheer range and talent Headey holds is outrageously magnificent. Once again serving a didactic and wholesome endearing role as Julia Knight and coincidentally her second wrestling orientated feature in two years after Walk Like A Panther in 2017. Her wit and comedic timing superb and exceptional as is the superb dramatic weight that Headey excels in crafting, with a fabulous loveable poignant conviction.

Ultimately, in Fighting With My Family we have a film that is in truth deceptively melodramatic and honest with its depiction of not only the lifestyle at WWE but the life decisions that define your limited time on this planet.

Fighting With My Family is in cinemas from today, February 27th.


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