"The Fits" (2015 release; 72 min.) brings the story of Toni, an 11 yr. old girl. As the movie opens, we see Toni doing push-ups and working out in the boxing gym alongside her older brother. But afterwards she watches a nearby dancer troupe doing their workouts, and it's clear Toni wants to join them. Toni's brother encourages her and it's not long before Toni enters a whole new world. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the debut full-length feature from writer-director Anna Rose Holmer. Here she picks a familiar topic (coming of age, fitting in and social acceptance), but Holmer brings it in a unique way, focusing on an 11 yr. old girl whom we watch as she tries to find her way. There is no dialogue to speak of during the first 20-25 minutes of the movie. Instead, we decipher all we need to know from Toni's face and body expressions. Newcomer Royalty Hightower as Toni as an absolute sensation. Did I mention that the entire cast of this film is African-American? (Interestingly, Holmer herself is not.) The movie is set entirely in Cincinnati's gritty West End neighborhood (much of the film being set at the Lincoln Community Center). As a complete aside, I also noticed in the opening credits that the movie is presented by the Biennale di Venezia, yes, the famous arts fest. Bottom line: "The Fits" is an abstract, yet very real comment on a young girl's coming of age, dealing with social acceptance and related challenges.
The movie opened recently at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Tuesday evening screening where I saw this at was PACKED, to my great (but pleasant) surprise. The fact the movie was shot here surely had a lot to due with it. Equally surprising was to see how many young kids were in the audience. If you are on the fence, perhaps because the movie's short running time, please do yourself a favor and check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. You will thank me later.
The Fits is a psychological portrait of 11-year-old Toni-a tomboy assimilating to a tight-knit dance team in Cincinnati's West End. Enamored by the power and confidence of this strong community of girls, Toni eagerly absorbs routines, masters drills, and even pierces her own ears to fit in. When a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team, Toni's desire for acceptance is twisted.
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