« THAT WAS MY HEADACHE | Main | BEAT CONNECTION 021: Best of 2016 War Room »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Tucker, to continue your theme of "cute" young girls appearing in 2016 movies, did you manage to catch 'The Fits' (dir. Anna Rose Holmer) last year? I reckon you can can take that film as the apotheosis of a part of what you're singling out in that it relies on the performances of a cast of untrained, young female actresses to set up a naturalistic depiction of teen life and gives its story over to observing the reality of one particular 11-year-old girl, Toni (played by Royal Hightower).

It's a film about the performative aspects of gender that works this metaphor into a literal aspect of the story by presenting two gendered spaces of physical performance that Toni is able to cross between: the male-centric boxing gym, where she trains with her brother; and the female-exclusive dance troupe, where she is intrigued by the vivacious exhibitions of call-and-response dance battles that she catches the girls performing. It gets at the idea of how one has to behave in order to be accepted within a particular social order; what parts of yourself need to be given up to the collective and what parts can be obstinately retained. There are some queer elements packed in there too, given that Toni is relatively fluid in her ability to cross between two performances of gender.

I'm making this sound more conceptual than the film actually is though. While the mapping of the gender stuff to the boxing and dancing activities is pretty on-the-nose, what it does is place a lot of reliance on physical performances and this is where Royal Hightower's turn as Toni comes into its own. The character she plays is stoic and taciturn and so Hightower, a first time actress, has to convey most of her experience through subtle expressions and physical movement. The way she holds her body (and adjusts this when around different people), the energy with which she moves (which varies with her emotional state and her sense of self-comfort), and her quietly longing gazes (which reveal wants that she doesn't fully understand), all combine to give you a picture of her character that her spoken words resist. There's another impressive element to Hightower's performance too, and that's that she's a highly skilled dancer playing the part of an awkward beginner and she really pulls off the movements of a shitty dancer, so much so that her turn to grace as the movie progresses feels more convincing than anything I've previously seen in any type of "beginner gets good" movie trope.

There are also some surprising horror elements thrown in - the way the ex-diegetic music works, the way lighting is used, and the depiction of the epidemic of physical seizures that begins to take hold of the girls, etc. - that make this film an interesting watch all round.

Jesus fucking christ calm down dude

Jesus. I've only seen Hunt For the Wilderpeople from your list. What did I do all year?
Wailing is streaming on Netflix so I plan on checking that out.

This is how I roll, Sean. Stilted text and an Asbergers-like inability to see the forest for the trees are all I've got when it comes to online communication. Take that away and all I'm left with are those fleeting interactions with the internet chat bots where I ask them how their day has been and they ask me if I want my $%#@ %^&*ed.

Hey Leon--i haven't seen that but am down for anything relating to fighting or apotheosis-y. I'll check it out asap

'The Fits is good. It almost appeared on my list for this year (though technically it's a '15 release)

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo