The Fight is actor Jessica Hynes’ down to earth but promising debut as director.
On the Ropesby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Tina, the character Jessica Hynes plays in her first film as director, is beset by almost too many family problems at once. Her talented daughter (Sannia Nanua) is being bullied at school. Her needy mother (Anita Dobson) is leaving her father (Christopher Fairbank). And Tina is an overworked care assistant doing three jobs to keep the family finances afloat, with her quietly supportive partner Mick (Shaun Parkes). They seem a typical just-about-managing family in a small seaside town.
The bully’s mother (Rhona Mitra) is persecuting Tina too. Could it be because they too were at school together? Though Tina self-medicates by listening to self-help tapes (unctuously voiced by Russell Brand), she decides to get a grip by – apparently out of the blue – learning to box. Her trainer (Cathy Tyson) at the conveniently nearby gym motivates her with a few home truths and tough love. Stalwarts Alice Lowe and Sally Phillips have small parts.
Tina trains hard in the ring and on the road. In time, the release she feels through boxing helps her face up to, and start to deal with, the problems bubbling to get to the surface of her life. But the basic premise of the film, why she should have chosen boxing in the first place, is at the some time both inexplicable, given the person she seems to be, and more – though still not completely – explicable as the this Schrödinger’s metaphor develops in the course of the film.
The Fight as a whole is a slice of life that may be more suited to the small screen, though performances are all good. It’s not at all bad, just a little bit underwhelming, but perhaps it’s the victim of too-high expectations for talented Hynes’ debut.
The Fight premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and is released on 15 March 2019 in the UK.