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Joel Mayward

The Fits

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This film from filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer is available via iTunes, Amazon, and other paid streaming services. At only 71 minutes, it feels like a lengthy short film in its scope and narrative, yet it's also deeply affecting and complex. I've nominated it for our Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury awards, and believe it needs its own thread. My review:


Adolescence is a mystery. It’s an inevitable period everyone experiences in maturation towards adulthood, yet its onset often feels traumatic, and its resolution is ambiguous. Every adult knows what it feels like, coming of age. Few care to revisit it in their art, and those that do often offer only hazy memories or cliched moments; the latter lack the sense of mystery, while the former rarely connect emotionally. When the mystery is authentically displayed in a work of art, it can be a marvel to behold. An enigmatic blend of the immanent and transcendent, of bodies and spirits, Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits is just such a work of art.

At 71 minutes, sparse in narrative and focused on a single setting, The Fits nevertheless feels full of imagination and spunk, much like its central character, Toni. Portrayed with a calm innocence by newcomer Royalty Hightower, Toni is a quiet observer of the activities and bodies in the community center where she trains as a boxer. She watches the teenage boys who work out alongside her brother in the boxing ring. She watches the dance troupe of girls practicing in the adjacent gym. She silently slides through hallways as crowds pass her by. She notices everything around her, yet remains unnoticed herself.

Anyone else seen this film yet? I believe it played at Sundance.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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I really like this film and am eager to see what Holmer does next. I hadn't seen it until our screening at The Public Cinema in August, and I knew I was going to like it a few minutes in, when, in addition to some great boxing and dancing scenes, I noticed a lot of blue and purple in the wardrobe and set design. That sounds odd, I know, but it confirmed my suspicion that Holmer and her DP spent a lot of time watching Claire Denis and Agnes Godard films. I described The Fits afterwards as a Denis remake of Bruno Dumont's The Life of Jesus! I'm not on the jury, but if I were you'd have my strong second!

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