Fighting With My Family review: A celebration of Norwich and never giving up
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The Rock and Stephen Merchant's new film is a warts-and-all portrayal of the Knight wrestling family from the fine city who turned their lives around.
Rising star Florence Pugh, who has starred in Lady MacBeth and Netflix’s Outlaw King, is superb as daughter Paige as we follow her from leafleting at Norwich Market for her upcoming wrestling show to WWE Diva’s Champion in America.
She captures Paige’s feistiness and ambition on her rise to the top but Pugh really shines when she shows Paige’s vulnerability when she comes back to Norwich during training and tells parents Ricky (Nick Frost) and Julia (Lena Headey) she doesn’t feel good enough.
The film follows the family as they build the World Association of Wrestling (WAW) promotions company in Norwich and brother and sister Paige and Zak as they tryout for the WWE.
Whilst Paige’s career reaches stratospheric heights, the sub-plot follows brother Zak (Jack Lowden) who doesn’t make it and his life spirals out of control as he watches his sister’s success whilst he is stuck at home.
This grippingly honest portrayal holds nothing back and shows Zak starting a pub brawl as he comes to terms with the rejection, Ricky talking about spending eight years behind bars for violence and older brother Roy is also released from prison during the film.
It’s refreshing to see that the real Knight family have aired every last bit of dirty laundry in creating this film which makes for an authentic and hugely entertaining watch.
Among the many highlights in the film is the scene when the family are sitting down to a Chinese takeaway with Zak’s girlfriend’s conservative parents, with the dad played by Stephen Merchant.
READ MORE: Fighting with my Family premieres to sold-out Norwich audience
The uptight couple look on in horror as Ricky, wearing a Flybe Norwich shirt, and Julia discuss how wrestling was their salvation from a life of crime and violence.
Nick Frost is the perfect casting as larger-than-life Ricky and shows how under his tough exterior he is a family man with an infectious personality and big heart and the chemistry with Lena as Julia is electric.
Jack Lowden, who recently starred in Mary Queen of Scots, also deserves a mention for his delicate portrayal of Zak’s mental health as he is conflicted by his pride for Paige and disappointment for his own dreams being shattered.
He also has the best Norwich accent of the film by a mile as other members of cast have a more west country twang at times.
A cameo from the film’s producer Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will also make sure this is a box office hit stateside.
It is brilliant to see Norwich put firmly on the map, with the siblings training at Mousehold Heath and when Paige wins her title she exclaims how proud she is to be a freak from Norwich.
This is a story about how your background is irrelevant if your dreams are big enough.
Fighting With My Family is released in UK cinemas on February 27.