Fighting with My Family (2019): ‘Get in the Ring!’ – A Film Review



With Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s recent success in acting, you’d be forgiven to think that a film that he produced and starred in, about wrestling, would be about him. Fighting with My Family is actually based upon his fellow wrestler, Paige (alias Saraya-Jade Bevis). Paige was the youngest female champion in WWE, the incredibly famous wrestling institution, winning the title at age 21. She helped usher in more of an interest in Woman’s Wrestling. She originally came from a family of wrestlers – their story already having been a subject of a documentary – The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family. With actors Nick Frost and Vince Vaughn with Director,Stephen Merchant, also acting; again, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a comedy film. It is much closer to a biopic with an occasional joke or two.


Managing a Tone

As a biopic the centre of the film relies heavily on the cast, Florence Pugh (as Paige), Jack Lowden (as brother Zak Knight) and Lena Headey (as Julia Knight) provide a strong emotional core to the film. As does Vince Vaughn, in a rather serious character in the film. Nick Frost and Stephen Merchant have their charm but remind us that the tone can be comical, but almost jarringly unreal compared to the rest of the cast. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson manages this gap a little easier, but has moments of both tones. The film seems to marry the fable of the Hollywood underdog, in Paige, with the stark realism of life, in Zac, and a comedy film, with the aforementioned comedic actors. It’s not completely out of place but it is noticeable that these scenes aren’t necessarily real, but there for situational comedy. Working even better is the play-off between Zac and Paige, as if two sides of the same coin.


The Story the Film Wants to Tell

Fighting with My Family is heart-warming, whilst also having a realistic edge. Despite the blurring tones, the camerawork and the depiction of the events seems to ground everything in reality. It is the tale that they wanted to tell, it would appear. Scenes of Paige’s nervousness and the way that she and the camera observes the crowd around them, reflects the strength and weakness of stage. The lights can be a spotlight or a blinding interrogator. Whilst the darkness can be anonymity or a place to hide. Tying into the themes of what characters are really feeling despite the glamour, it seems that the film was always wanting to be a tale of a heart-warming and real story.



The film may be a little confused with what it wants to show, but its strength lies in the story of a girl who’d overcome being an outsider and found strength in the ring. A lot like The Wrestler but a lot less downbeat, Fighting with My Family manages to place a superstar in the very real world; albeit with a little of the ‘hollywood touch’. The film is moving and strong but with just a few tonal difficulties, which isn’t quite enough to distract from the rest of the film. It was a story that they clearly wanted to tell.



Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) is a wrestler and so are all of her family. She and her brother dream of getting on the WWE main roster, but at the tryouts her brother doesn’t make it whilst she does under the name of Paige.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Fighting with My Family (d. Stephen Merchant UK/USA 2019)

The Wrestler (d. Darren Aronofsky USA/France 2008)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Florence Pugh

Interview with Stephen Merchant

Interview with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson & Stephen Merchant

Interview with Paige

Interview with Vince Vaughn

Behind the Scenes


Underdog Featurette

Becoming Paige

Everything You Need to Know About Paige

Paige Winning the Title at 21

Memorable Moments

Paige on Music and Her Name


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This was an analytical review of….


Fighting with My Family (d. Stephen Merchant UK/USA 2019)

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