There’s little fresh to the idea of the Rocky story, of a sporting underdog attempting to triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds. Depending on which Rocky sequel you happen to be watching at the time, they sometimes succeed too.
What’s not been done to date is the tale of a family of wrestling fanatics from Norwich, from which a teenage girl attempts to scale the heights of WWE wrestling in the US. And, as with many unlikely stories of its ilk that make it to the big screen, this particular story is based on a true story.
In Fighting With My Family, then, the terrific Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden take on the roles of the pair at the heart of the story, sister and brother Saraya ‘Paige’ and Zak ‘Zodiac’ who share a dream of being professional WWE wrestlers. They’re egged on and supported by their parents – played by Lena Headey and Nick Frost – as they look to fulfil their dreams in America.
It’s a sibling story at the heart of the tale, with life having different things in store for each of them. And as has been pointed out by the film’s writer and director – The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant – there’s quite a dark, down-to-earth gritty British drama that could be made out of the ensuing narrative. It’s not too tricky to see that.
Yet for Merchant, helming his second feature following the underappreciated coming-of-age drama Cemetery Junction (made back in 2010 alongside Ricky Gervais), a dark, gritty film is clearly the last thing he wanted to make.