It's Not Always in the Ring
Writer, director, and star Jessica Hynes (Spaced) sets herself an ambitious target with her directorial debut - and she mostly delivers. Known throughout the U.K. for her comedy prowess, Hynes takes a very different tone in "The Fight" and manages to touch upon many real world issues in a way that feels real and earnest.
Hynes stars as Tina, a mother of three who seems to make it through her days only through the power of going to the gym or running, while listening to a self-help guru voiced by Russell Brand ("Get Him to the Greek"). Tina is stressed early in the film because her eldest daughter, Emma (Sennia Nannua) is being bullied at school by Jordan (Liv Hill) and since her husband Mick (Shaun Parkes, "The Mummy Returns") works the night shift, they struggle get on the same page to deal with the issue.
Tina has a difficult relationship with her mother (Anita Dobson), who, in turn kicks her father (Christopher Fairbank, "Guardians of the Galaxy") out of the house, and he comes to live with Tina. The last element that drives Tina to start to take action is the discovery that school bully Jordan's mother is Amanda (Rhona Mitra, "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans"), someone she used to bully when she was in school. Needing more of an outlet, Tina starts boxing at her gym and slowly gains the confidence and voice that she needs to confront the problems in her day-to-day life.
The fight here is a metaphor for the struggle for happiness. The film follows Tina as she transitions from a passenger in her own life to a person who takes charge and makes active decisions to better her situation. Life is messy and not everything can be fixed, and "The Fight" reflects this: in the end Tina's relationships aren't perfect, but life does become better.
For their part, the actors are all good, without being great. Liv Hill gives perhaps the best performance as Jordan, being able to successfully alternate between bully and ringleader, and transitioning to confused and mentally tormented daughter, to just lonely, with ease. And Shaun Parkes' Mick is quite likeable, though his fairly limited role doesn't allow him to command much attention from the viewer.
In the end, the film's greatest asset is its close proximity to reality. It is shot and told in a manner that never lets any one character or plot element become too fantastical to believe. You could be one of these characters. Most of us probably have at some point dealt with the problems they are dealing with, and we can relate. And perhaps the best part is that "The Fight" doesn't wrap everything up in a neat bow at the end. Instead it shows that there will still be struggles, but, as Tina did, you work to control those things that you can.
While there are times when Hynes may have tried too hard to drive some of the points home, her debut behind the camera is undeniably a success and worth seeing.