The Fits Screen 21 articles

The Fits


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  • Formally dazzling, which might have been enough had The Fits been a short (feels bloated even at a mere 73 minutes)... Love the way Holmer eschews all contextualization, just dropping us into what appears to be a distaff teenage Beau travail; the emphasis on mood and movement, to the exclusion of almost everything else, heralds an exciting new talent. As the ostensible mystery grows more prominent, however, pure sensation gradually gives way to cognition—a shift that does the movie no favors.

  • This singular mix of character study and mysterious mood piece might not have come off quite so successfully if not for Hightower's internal performance. The full extent of Toni's confusion and self-doubt reveals itself largely through the actress's body language: the initial clumsiness of her physical movements as Toni tries to master the Lionesses' choreography, the sense of careful observation that teems in her large eyes.

  • A blend of dance, sports, sci-fi, and horror channeled through the story of a nine-year-old tomboy, The Fits is an entirely new take on the coming-of-age film.

  • The director, Anna Rose Holmer, shoots both [boxing and dance] with a keen eye for the ways in which they overlap. Her subject is the body and the way it moves — whether with elegance, as when Hightower practices, or in a frenzy, as when an unexplained seizure epidemic strikes the dancing girls. Holmer proves adept with both horror and dance.

  • At certain points one wishes that the movie had just a few more moves in its repertoire, but the finale is a show-stopper, a payoff that justifies the overall strategy of withholding, and there are some beautiful bits of observed business spread throughout, like the little dance that Toni’s friend Beezy does around Toni’s mop as she polishes the basketball courts. It is with such details, as well as with grandiloquent gestures, that the best first impressions are made.

  • A metaphor for entrance to female-specific adolescence (the boys are untouched), The Fits exhibits a rhythm all its own as unique and spirited as the girls' dancing.

  • Holmer demonstrates a shrewd understanding of girls’ interior lives. She and cinematographer Paul Yee infuse the community center, in and around which the entire film takes place, with elements of magical realism to accentuate the protagonist's passage from childhood into adolescence. The neutral color palette and the primal motions of the boxing gym, where the girl finds sanctuary, contrast with the garish glitter and ritualistic movement of the dance class, an exercise in feminine conformity.

  • A bit on the nose on spots, but one of the better recent coming of age films. Anna Rose Holmer has a very good handle on material and she works very well with her strong cast (lead Royalty Hightower is great). The Fits has a genuine understand of teenage alienation and control of the relationship of actors and space that is very promising.

  • Although at the time I viewed The Fits it struck me as an impressive but flawed debut film, I am starting to have doubts about that initial assessment. In the weeks since I saw Anna Rose Holmer's film, it has stuck with me, drifting unbidden into my mind with a particular gesture or facial expression. I feel myself coming back again and again to The Fits on a strange visceral level. Nothing else is quite like it.

  • There’s a continuum between a physically exerted and ecstatic body, among athletic, dramatic, and emotional performance. [Hightower's] sense of dance evokes the fluidity of Keaton and Chaplin, gliding between physicality and elegance, comedy and pathos.

  • A coming-of-age story distinguished by more than its determined yet solitary protagonist, the beautifully constructed film is by turns deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.

  • Holmer pares down the story to conjure contemplative moods; she films the children with poised observational tenderness and pushes, calmly but decisively, through practicalities to unfold fantasies and dreams. The movie’s natural sweetness vibrates with mysteries.

  • In The Fits, emotion becomes motion and psychology becomes space. It's a coming-of-age story, but Holmer mostly eschews dialogue and standard storytelling devices; she tells her tale through movements and patterns and the way that she films them.

  • Shortly after [Toni] joins the troupe, the women begin suffering intense, enigmatic fainting spells, or fits. Are these an affliction, or possibly an initiation into a state of grace? Holmer doesn’t answer that question outright, and her film, both intimate and bracingly cinematic, is better for it. The Fits riffs on the power and mystery of adolescent beauty, and on the joy of what it means to move.

  • The miracle of the movie is that, like Toni, it transcends blunt, reductive categorization partly because it’s free of political sloganeering, finger wagging and force-fed lessons. Any uplift that you may feel won’t come from having your ideas affirmed, but from something ineluctable – call it art.

  • It weaves a spell with a mood of unnameable uneasiness. Being a girl seems to be the central problem, or maybe being a girl is not a problem at all. "The Fits" is the kind of film that asks more questions than it answers. The questions have echoing resonance.

  • The fits become a poetic expression of the girls’ individuality, or their own suffering and alienation in patriarchal structures. Collectively, those who experience the episodes know the feeling, though it is different for all. In this way, illness becomes liberation, and Toni’s final conversion becomes a brave act of accepting her own sexuality.

  • Unlike the appallingly manipulative Swiss Army Man, a trite and showy film about loneliness that treats its viewers like freshman philosophy students, The Fits sees coming-of-age not as a twee excuse for showboating but an opportunity to deepen the mystery of everyday expression. Work and play are not separate experiences but flipsides of the same thorny perspective.

  • On the positive fictional side, any low-budget fiction debut would be hard pressed to compete with Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits, which debuted at Sundance and keeps its lens firmly on the distinctive face, head and, occasionally, body of 11-year-old African-American actress Royalty Hightower in order to keep us close to her interiority. Her compact and powerful young form is all the more aesthetically arresting because of the careful way it’s shot.

  • In keeping with the references to Minnelli’s underrated masterpiece [MADAME BOVARY], one must note the final dance number that’s comparable to musical numbers from his better-received work, though it’s not hysterical so much as it is ecstatic. Just one more thing that will stay with you after watching this singular film. Also as impressive as the story and performances is the mise-en-scene; Holmer is no mere stylist—she’s an emerging auteur.

  • It is indeed an impressive debut that works strongly on a purely cinematic level. The Fits is a film built on the senses: looking, listening, moving, dancing, hitting. The image that remains in the mind is that of its young heroine Toni (Royalty Hightower), and especially her unwavering gaze as she observes her surroundings.

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