We’ve all had big dreams right? Well for Saraya Knight her dream is to become a professional wrestler on the grandest stage of them all.
Wrestling is very much all Saraya knows. It’s all her family knows. So much so, she’s named after her Mum’s in-ring wrestling name. Wrestling is in the blood of the Knight family. It’s kept them away from crime and off the streets.
Growing up watching WWF/WWE on TV, wrestling also became Saraya’s escape. Her passion. Training from an early age and dreaming of wrestling at WrestleMania in front of millions, Saraya’s shot comes at a tryout alongside her brother Zak.
Wrestling in a small gym in Norwich may be one thing but trying to achieve your goal of the bright lights is another task entirely.
There aren’t many films made about professional wrestling and there’s probably a very good reason why – it’s pre-determined. Having grown up as a wrestling obsessed fanatic from a very early age, it’s a fact I know all too well. So the issue remains, how do you create the typical sports movie journey of the underdog when the climactic event is a work of fictionalized entertainment?
Well, Fighting With My Family tackles it to some degree, letting you forget the final match is pre-determined but also knows that’s not how to grip the audience. When Fighting With My Family succeeds, it focuses on the dream and journey, rather than the event itself. There’s still a huge amount of athleticism and training that goes into professional wrestling so, don’t worry, you’ll get your montages.
It’s the dream, however, that’s the main emphasis. It’s something we can all understand. The childhood ambition. The stardom. It’s what Saraya strives for, along with the practicalities of being able to eventually support her working class family as a result.
Aside from Florence Pugh who leads with incredible confidence, she’s supported by an array of strong characters and performers. You may even find yourself becoming more engrossed with their own stories, particularly that of Saraya’s brother Zak. Played fantastically by Jack Lowden (Dunkirk), Zak too dreams of the bright lights but he’s faced with a more realistic future, one he struggles to accept.
Opening on a screen of black, you’re instantly struck by “IF YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK… IS COOKING” and I was transported back to my 11-year-old self. There are plenty of nostalgic nods to enjoy and Fighting With My Family seems to find that nice balance between pacifying the die-hard fans and bringing the audience along for the ride into the world of pro wrestling.
If you were excited to see Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper) play himself, or more so The Rock, however, I’d temper your expectations. It’s more a cameo than starring role.
Even though a large portion of the film takes place in the US, Fighting With My Family feels distinctly British. That’s likely due to the involvement of Stephen Merchant. Marginally predictable but thoroughly enjoyable all the same, Fighting With My Family is witty, heartwarming and inspirational. I once dreamed of being WWF Champion and posed with a homemade belt. We all did right? RIGHT?
By Jordan Barrett