Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

22 October 2016

The Fits

And in case you are feeling guilty about hating The Birth of a Nation (or if, alternatively, you decided to boycott TBoaN because you have something against Nate Parker), please allow me to recommend The Fits. This film also played at Sundance this year (2016), and it didn't get nearly as much hype as Birth. But The Fits is a superb little film.

Anna Rose Holmer's film (the film was actually written, directed, produced and edited by Holmer, Saela Davis, and Lisa Kjerulff) follows a young tomboy named Toni who mostly hangs out with her brother and his male friends and spends her time boxing in a gym in Cincinnati. She gets excited about auditioning for a girl's dance troupe and starts practicing so that she can join. She begins to make a few friends in the squad, and although she does not fit in very well, she is excited about this dance troupe and so she works hard to make it happen.

But then... the captain of the troupe has a kind of seizure or fit. And no one can explain the cause of this fit.

And then... one of the other girls has a fit. Is it a ghost? Is it something divine? Is it the water? What is happening to these girls?

The Fits is a beautiful, thoughtful, gorgeously composed film about black girl magic, female identity, and what it means to fit in. The eponymous fits are the film's central mystery, certainly, but because The Fits is about fitting in, the title resonates in that way as well.

The central character is sensitively and quizzically played by newcomer Royalty Hightower, and she is supported perfectly by other Cincinnati actors Alexis Neblett and Da'Sean Minor, who all give great performances.

I don't want to say anything more about The Fits since it is intended to work as a puzzle; I wouldn't want to spoil it. This is a short feature (less than 90 minutes) but it is exquisitely realized and is the freshest coming-of-age tale I've seen in a long time. The Fits is easily one of my favorite films of 2016 thus far.

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