The true story of WWE superstar Paige is inspirational in itself, but the real pleasure of Fighting With My Family is how rounded the secondary (and even tertiary?) characters turn out to be.
A feelgood origin story, with wonderful performances all round: Florence Pugh as Saraya “Paige” Knight is as great as you’d hope and expect; Jack Lowden just aches as Saraya’s devoted yet understandably conflicted brother; Lena Headey and Nick Frost are their charming and weird (and therefore perfect) selves as their parents; and this may be the single best and most restrained performance Vince Vaughn has given to date, conveying all his character’s humanity in his reaction shots alone, before he actually tells his sympathetic story.
Of course, there’s the be-better-than-your-best physical and emotional journey, but Paige’s real growing up happens via the most immediate threat to her: Madison (Ellie Gonsalves), Kirsten (Aqueela Zoll) and Jeri-Lynn (Kim Matula) – the other women vying for the coveted place in the WWE. Writer/director Stephen Merchant‘s most interesting and rewarding choice is to draw Paige as both underdog and entitled – character traits as obstacles to be overcome before she can achieve her dream.
Paige’s real-life debut on WWE. Even if you don’t believe in the wrestling (the matches are “fixed”, not “fake”, we’re told in the film), the emotion is certainly real:
The original documentary, The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family, which inspired producer Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to make the film (he didn’t, as portrayed in the film, meet the Knights until after Paige had already made the WWE):