THE FITS

Anna Rose Holmer, USA, 2015

A community gym seems an unlikely setting for any film that isn’t just another low-budget Rocky rehash, and while boxing does indeed play its part here, Anna Rose Holmer’s feature-length debut, The Fits, is instead a coming-of-age/mystery hybrid that turns the rather ordinary facility into the arena of an almost Hitchcockian suspense piece.

An unexplained chain reaction of violent seizures shakes the centre’s young female dance troupe, while its latest member, eleven-year-old Toni (Royalty Hightower), can only watch. In place of a strong narrative, the young protagonist is given time and space to develop, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in her dedicated daily routine and the seemingly random fitting episodes that shake it up.

The seizures are indeed real in the film’s world – so real they make the TV news. Yet there’s certainly more going on here than surface level mass psychogenic morbidity. Initiation into menstruation is perhaps the most obvious metaphorical explanation. The desire to simply ‘fit in’ (or not) and the consequences of lacking strong adult role models are also worth considering. The director is definitely keen to have her audience put some work in, as there’s no ‘this is what I meant’ conclusion.

Any review of The Fits must tip its hat to the 2014 Carol Morley film, The Falling. Yet, while there are undeniably similarities, the dark grittiness and Wicker Man-esque allusions to pagan culture Morley employs are nowhere to be seen here. Instead, The Fits is slick and clean, making the events, both at surface level and as a metaphor, all the more bizarre and captivating.

Despite its almost entirely African-American cast, The Fits’ look, feel and sound betrays that Holmer is about as New York white girl as they come. But the different cultures meld together, giving the film a unique personality, so that while there are clear nods towards a range of influences, this truly is a feature that cuts its own mould.

Jordan Lee Smith

Film Listings

Hosted by Samantha Holland

WENDY & LUCY
Kelly Reichardt, USA, 2008
Wed 12 April | 6:30pm | Showroom | £8.50/£6.30
A woman and her dog get stuck in Oregon on a painfully long journey to find work. Many reviewers raved about Reichardt’s direction and Michelle Williams’ acting – although,  interestingly, those on different sides of the Atlantic tend to express quite different views about the film’s relationship to contemporary ‘poverty’.
showroomworkstation.org.uk/wendy-and-lucy

OUT/SIDE/FILM: NEW FILM & WORKS BY ARTISTS
Thu 27 April | 7-10pm | Regather Works | £7
Showing submitted and selected short docs, experimental film, artists' moving image, found footage and oddities from all over the world. Submissions invited on any subject or format whatsoever. Particular interest in films addressing the human condition locally, nationally and globally at this particular point in our history. To submit a film, contact info@outsidefilm.org.uk. Minimum age 18.
regather.net

UN HOMME QUI DORT (THE MAN WHO SLEEPS)
with live soundtrack by ANIMAT + support
Fri 28 April | 7:30pm | Regather Works | £7
A fascinating film that uses inventive cinematography and voiceover rather than more conventional narrative forms and dialogue. Animat's live soundtrack is said to be a hypnotic, ambient electronic soundscape to match the mood of the film.
regather.net

MOONLIGHT
Barry Jenkins, USA, 2016
Sat 29 April | 2:30 & 7:30pm | Film Unit, University of Sheffield
It won the Oscar. Oh yes, it did! This film about identity and its shifts and stabilities across time as shaped by the infinite malleabilities and variabilities of race, class, gender, sexuality and more has garnered luminous praise for both content and form.
filmunit.org.uk