Jessica Hynes, best known for her comedic turns in things like Shaun Of The Dead and Spaced, kicks off her directing career in style with, The Fight.
Filmed in just 12-days in Hynes’ home-town, Hynes also takes the lead role as Tina, a working mother of three and wife of Mick, Shaun Parkes (“Human Traffic”, “Lost In Space (TV)”).
Tina has a murky past, nothing dodgy per-se, just a little murky, and it’s clear that she also has, or has had, a temper. She generally spends her time listening to a self-help guru on her headphones, voiced by Russell Brand (“Rock Of Ages”, “Ballers (TV)”).
Tina has a lot going on, besides her three kids to look after, she works in a nursing home, Mick works nights and her mother Gene, Anita Dobson (“EastEnders (TV)”, “Red Dwarf (TV)”), gets hugely upset at her father Frank, Christopher Fairbank (“Guardians Of The Galaxy”, “The Fifth Element”).
When Gene hits Frank over the head with a frying-pan, Franks ends up moving in. Just before this, their eldest daughter Emma, Sennia Nanua (“The Girl With All The Gifts”, “Beverley (Short)”), starts to get bullied at school by Jordan, Liv Hill (“The Little Stranger”, “Jellyfish”), whose mother Amanda, Rhona Mitra (“Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans”, “The Strain (TV)”), Tina has a past with.
To try and stay calm, as well as the self-help, Tina goes to a local boxing club, run by Cathy Tyson (“Mona Lisa”, “Two Graves”) for a boxercise class, but it’s in the ring she wants to have a go at.
As Emma’s bullying gets worse, and escalates to outside of the classroom, and Gene finds out her daughter and husband have been keeping secrets from her, Tina must be at her most calm, her most relaxed, to sort all this out.
This isn’t the first thing Hynes has wrote, she wrote the TV series Spaced as well as a few other TV series and TV movies, but this is the first thing she has directed.
She absolutely smashes both; the writing is assured and much more dramatic than you might expect, whilst the directing is confident, Hynes often playing with focus and foreground and background elements.
As for the performances, well it is fantastic to see Shaun Parkes back in a film again and he is brilliant as the loving, caring dad, the kids are all great as are Dobson and Fairbank.
We are also treated to a couple of cameos with Alice Lowe (“Prevenge”, “Sightseers”) popping up as a home-school teacher and Sally Phillips (“Pride And Prejudice And Zombies”, “Bridget Jones’s Diary”), in an extended role as Emma’s music teacher.
Hynes, meanwhile, absolutely shines as Tina. Frustrated, tired, angry and emotional, Hynes handles the whole range of emotions and keeps you engaged and captivated throughout.
The Fight is written beautifully, acted superbly and directed wonderfully. It’s a lot more dramatic than I was expecting, more gritty I guess, but it is a wonderfully made, touching film.