Fighting with My Family Review20th February 2019
The story of professional WWE star Paige is one that fans of wrestling will be all-too-familiar with.
It seems rather strange then that WWE Studios’ latest project is a biopic of her rise to stardom and the personal problems she faced along the way. A first-time big screen solo directing job for Stephen Merchant, and funded by the same company that brought you The Marine and Knucklehead comes Fighting with My Family, this is a genuine contender for film of the year.
It’s always risky going into a film where a prominent chunk of the cast are nameless faces and a director whose only previous work has been a co-directing credit on Cemetery Junction. Still, both director Stephen Merchant and star Florence Pugh (The Commuter, Lady Macbeth) are incredible, working together in tremendous fashion.
Pugh is stellar in the leading role as Saraya “Paige” Knight, a Norwich born kid coming from a family of respected local wrestlers.
The family dynamic is right at the core of the film the whole way through. With some intense focus on the relationship between Paige and her brother, Zak Bevis (Jack Lowden), the film struggles to keep the balance between conducting Paige’s journey and developing the characters around her.
Luckily, this balance is fairly solid throughout under the watchful eye of Stephen Merchant, who provides us with some fine-tuned direction. His focus on the story is wonderful, and it’s quite a nice feeling to know he truly cares about the story he is presenting us – that much is clear from his direction and use of cinematography.
But the film’s greatest surprise is an extremely impressive turn from Vince Vaughn, who has branched further into dramatic roles ever since his small stint in Hacksaw Ridge.
Here, his performance as NXT coach Hutch Morgan is quite possibly the best work of his career thus far. Comparable only to his impressive versatility in Brawl in Cell Block 99 and comedic timing in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Vaughn has what it takes to give an extremely impressive supporting role.
The only issues are continuity errors and a lack of appreciation for brands outside of the WWE, Fighting with My Family is exactly what wrestling fans have been hoping for and so much more. With a brilliantly strong script, brought together by some intensely detailed direction on Merchant’s behalf, this is a real triumph for those of us who wanted a movie about wrestling that doesn’t have Mickey Rourke in it.