Sports movies using an activity as a metaphor for various life struggles is a bit of a cliche, and the idea of a "fight" is probably the worst example. Heck, we even had "Fighting With My Family" this year, but at least that was based on a true story (and was funny/entertaining). Also cliched is that quintessential "British Film" where higher budgets are substituted for kitchens, ironing, shouting, and lingering shots of things like trees or people walking along thinking. Its easy to forget those things - for a while - in Hynes' debut film, which focuses on bad parenting, dealing with the past, school bullies, and sort of folds a subplot over on itself to create some overlaps and parallels. There are some emotive moments, and I found myself engaged. Her acting is terrific, as are some of the supporting cast. But afterwards, it deflates quickly. There's barely anything to remember, no striking scenes, no clear story, no real message, just nebulous ideas of things. One strangely forced subplot conclusion that comes out of nowhere. There's no vein of causality or purpose, no reference points, it all just evaporates. In a year, I don't think I'll remember a single thing about it. I get the feeling Hynes internalised the pressure of "making a film" into having to deliver something sombre, lofty and heavy, when I think turning a story like this into satire or sharp comedy would have been far more effective (its impossible not to imagine with talent like Alice Lowe, Sally Phillips and Russell Brand's involvement). There's a single cheap-laugh scene against home-schooling, which feels even more forced after trying to involve us in a school bullying story. In a Q&A afterwards, she confessed that the writing process was all over the place, switching around major character plot-points, working backwards from the idea of having a reason for a woman wanting to box (which was probably the least effective and most pointless aspect of the film for me). This style of writing, without a clear story to begin with, explains a lot of the films contrivances and makes it seem more like a screenwriting homework project than something worthy of a feature. Having got this out her system though, I hope her next project has more purpose and confidence.
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Tina lives in a quiet seaside town but her life is anything but quiet - her mother is threatening to leave her father, her daughter is being bullied and she and her husband Mick are ...
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September 23, 2019