I experienced a fascinating and unique little (72 minutes!) film the other day called “The Fits”. I’d love it if some of you would watch it and comment on your interpretation, but I realize that most won’t see it. That being said, I’m also reticent to recommend it to the mainstream crowd (they don’t always realize that they are the mainstream crowd, for one thing, because I don’t feel like hearing how much they hate it. The movie certainly asks more questions than it answers, but that’s part of what’s so fascinating about it. Anna Rose Holmer has made an astonishing feature writing and directing debut.
Toni (Royalty Hightower…terrific) is an 11-year-old boxing tomboy, who works out at a large YWCA-like facility, on Cincinnati’s West End. One day, she witnesses an energetic group of female dancers called “The Lionesses”, who perform their wildly gyrating routines in another space in the building. Toni begins doing drills and routines with the dance troupe, and she starts exhibiting a different level of empowerment than she did in the ring. Before long, she is piercing her ears, and painting her nails. But then some of the dancers begin falling victim to odd fainting spells, or spasmodic fits. Why? Adults and the media supply a variety of answers. But are they accurate?
“The Fits” made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and was picked up by the avant-garde Oscilloscope Laboratories, and given a limited run in late spring. Chock full of metaphors and symbolism, but hardly glaring–and in the most subtle ways possible in most instances. Okay–the final shot isn’t exactly subtle. But it’s a stunner. It’s a nifty little puzzle box of a movie, that cuts right to the chase, and knows exactly when to stop. It’s daring. And true film lovers shouldn’t miss it. Alexis Neblett, Makyla Burnam, and Da’Sean Minor are part of the ebullient cast.