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Review: The Fits

The Fits is such an odd little movie. In fact, its name feels entirely appropriate because it’s beat appreciated in fits and starts. That is not an insult, nor is it the reason that the film is named such in the first place.

Needless to say, despite its rhythm seeming out of place at about minute five, The Fits finishes surprisingly strong. That it is one of the most interesting film we’ll see all year, (not an understatement) is without a doubt. That we’ll actually see it at all this year, (and on a big screen to boot), is an accomplishment in and of itself. From our understanding there hasn’t been a place to see the film in Canada, (aside from a run in Vancouver) until it screens Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at The Open Roof Film Festival. By all means go! The experience of watching The Fits on a communal screen with an audience is nothing short of rapturous, (one imagines; we watched a screening link).

To describe the film is difficult, but here goes: 11-year-old Toni (Royalty Hightower, and yes that name is awesome) is a boxer that wants to be a Lioness. A member of the dance squad The Lionesses, it is made clear, even though she’s smaller than the rest of the squad. She eventually works her way in, (it is assumed? Some of the action in the film is implied rather than stated). The most interesting aspect of The Fits is that once Toni works her way into the group, many of its Lionesses start to convulse for some reason (hence, The Fits), and disappear from the squad.

Why does this happen? Writer / Director / Producer Anna Rose Holmer never elaborates, and nor should she. This fascinatingly original work, which gets compared to Girlhood yet reminds us a bit of T-Rex, the Claress Shields documentary. The film as a whole feels like a doc, maybe a hybrid doc, or maybe something of its own creation entirely. There is a scene on a bridge that features only Toni, and she starts to dance and punch and the dancing gets caught up in her own rhythm, and it’s a sight to behold, almost out-Girlhooding Girlhood. That is tough to do, but The Fits may not be the best fit, hence why it turns up at this juncture. But if you find the rhythm and the key and give into it, by its final song, about 70 minutes in, (and into the credits), The Fits fits just right. It’s revelatory.

[star v=4]