This mesmerizing piece of fictional portraiture is so marvelously acted and beautifully cinematic that it feels not just like a documentary, but real life.
The Fits begins with minimal dialogue and a strong soundscape, contrasting female dancers and male boxers sharing different parts of a gym. The main character, a young girl with braids, transitions from her brother’s boxing world where we see her doing pull-ups with a split lip to emulating the older girls upstairs.
Nearly every character is black and young, and all of them — especially the leads — show incredible poise and dexterity in their roles.
Oh, and there’s a scene of young black girls dancing in an empty pool, a la Beyonce’s now-iconic “Formation” music video.
It’s particularly challenging for a piece that focuses at least initially on a low-stakes internal conflict — to box or to dance — with thin dialogue to remain captivating. The Fits succeeds effortlessly. This isn’t a stereotypical poverty/projects sob story or a rags-to-riches sort of tale; it’s just a slice of life in a relatively brief span of time, a short witness to childhood. It’s wonderful and moving, and if that weren’t enough to hold audience’s attention, there’s a mysterious twist that haunts the latter half of the film.
The Fits screens on April 12 at 4:30 p.m. and April 15 at 7:30 p.m. at A/perture 2, and on April 17 11:30 a.m. at UNCSA Gold.
— Eric Ginsburg