REVIEW: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

Starring

Florence Pugh (Black Widow)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz)
Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scotts)
Vince Vaughn (The Internship)
Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence)
James Burrows (Robin Hood)
Hannah Rae (Broadchurch)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Thea Trinidad (Dorothy and the Witches of Oz)
John Cena (Bumblebee)
Julia Davis (Four Lions)
Kim Matula (Dawn Patrol)

Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)In 2002, in Norwich, England, UK, 10-year-old Zak Bevis is engrossed by the WWF (now WWE) King of the Ring pay-per-view event until his younger sister Saraya changes the channel to her favorite program, Charmed. The siblings wrestle, urged on by their parents Rick and Julia. Rick books the children for their first wrestling match where Saraya, initially reluctant to wrestle a boy, goes on to win as planned.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)At 18, competing under the ring name “Britani Knight”, Saraya and her brother “Zak Zodiac” help their parents train prospective wrestlers while working toward their own promotion. Rick and Julia, struggling financially, ask WWE trainer Hutch Morgan to sign the siblings. He finally agrees to a tryout before a SmackDown taping at The O2 Arena, and tells Saraya to find a different name as they “already have a Britani”. The siblings receive advice from Dwayne Johnson, and Saraya adopts the name Paige from her favorite character on Charmed.Jack Lowden and Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)The two try out with several other wrestlers and are all belittled by Morgan. He ultimately chooses Paige over the rest, despite her attempt to have Zak signed as well. With her brother’s encouragement, Paige leaves for America while Zak continues wrestling on the British independent circuit, assisting his parents’ wrestling school, and tending to his girlfriend and newborn son.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)Arriving at NXT in Florida, Paige has difficulty adjusting to the WWE style of entertainment – chiefly, the absence of intergender competition and the inexperience of her fellow female trainees Jeri-Lynn, Kirsten, & Maddison. Paige struggles with performing promos and Morgan’s constant belittlement. Morgan makes it clear to Zak that he will never be signed to WWE, and Zak falls into a depression. Paige discovers her parents are selling merchandise of her likeness without her permission and have booked her in a match against Zak scheduled for her Christmas break.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)At an NXT live event and her in-ring debut, Paige is heckled by the crowd and freezes up, leaving the ring in tears. She decides to bleach her hair blonde and spray tan to look more like her fellow trainees, which only causes more friction between them. After failing an obstacle course, Paige lashes out at the trainees for gossiping about her when they were actually discussing Kirsten, who has been away from her daughter in order to give her a better life.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)Morgan tells Paige that her brother’s future in WWE would only have been as enhancement talent and signing would have ruined his life, implying that it did the same to him. Morgan encourages Paige to quit and return to her family for a happier life. She travels home for the Christmas break. Just before the match against her brother, Paige tells Zak she is leaving WWE. Angry that she is giving up the dream he failed to achieve himself, Zak goes off-script, defeats Paige and then tells their parents her plans to quit, devastating Ricky. After the family find Zak in a drunken bar fight, Paige admits that Morgan declined to sign Zak to protect him and he needs to focus on what is important in life; his family and coaching children who look up to him. Paige changes her mind after Zak berates her for giving up on their shared dream, and she returns to Florida, resuming her original hair color and skin tone.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)She drastically improves in training, befriending and encouraging her fellow trainees. Zak returns to training his parents’ students. Morgan brings the trainees to WrestleMania XXX, where Paige is booked in a suite with The Rock and learns she will make her Raw debut the following night against WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee, as recommended by Morgan. Paige makes her Raw debut and again freezes up, but Lee starts the match and unexpectedly puts the Divas Championship on the line. With her family watching on TV, Paige wins the match and the title, finally comfortable enough to say a promo, “This is MY house!”.Florence Pugh in Fighting with My Family (2019)An epilogue explains that Paige remains the youngest Divas Champion and was an early leader in the ongoing Women’s Revolution, that one of Zak’s trainees, who was blind, became a wrestler, and pokes fun at The Rock’s movie career and Rick selling shares in the family business. The closing credits include footage from the family’s 2012 documentary and Paige’s debut match.Florence-Pugh-as-WWE-Superstar-Paige-in-Fighting-With-My-FamilyYou dont need to be a wrestling fan to absolutely adore this movie. Its more of a strong family themed movie and a heroic from nowhere to star sports flick. It has at least a half dozen laugh out loud moments, a few moments of stealthily wiping my watering eyes and the euphoric grand finally.

REVIEW: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Starring

Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bnes)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jack Lowden (’71)
Joe Alwyn (The Favourite)
Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel)
Martin Compston (The Aftermath)
Ismael Cruz Córdova (Exposed)
Brendan Coyle (Me Before Before You)
Ian Hart (God’s Own Country)
Adrian Lester (Doomsday)

Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)In 1561, nineteen-year-old Mary, Catholic Queen of Scotland, returns to her home country from France following the death of her husband, Francis II of France, to take up her throne, where she is received by her half brother, the Earl of Moray. In neighbouring England, her cousin, twenty-eight-year-old Elizabeth is Protestant Queen of England — unmarried, childless, and threatened by Mary’s potential claim to her throne. Mary soon clashes with the cleric John Knox and dismisses him from her court. Knox is a protestant and leader of the Scottish Reformation and perceives Mary to be a danger to the kingdom’s Protestant supremacy.Margot Robbie, Grace Molony, and Georgia Burnell in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)In an attempt to weaken her cousin’s threat to her sovereignty, Elizabeth arranges for Mary, whom the English Catholics recognize as their rightful Queen, to be married to an Englishman. She chooses Robert Dudley, whom she secretly loves, to propose to Mary. Both are unwilling to be married to each other, but the news of Elizabeth’s smallpox convinces Mary to take the offer provided that Mary is named Elizabeth’s heir apparent. Reluctant to let go of Dudley, Elizabeth secretly sends Lord Darnley to Scotland under the pretence of living under their religious freedom. Despite initially sensing an ulterior motive on Darnley’s part, Mary gradually grows fond of Darnley and eventually accepts his marriage proposal.Saoirse Ronan, Jack Lowden, and James McArdle in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)Mary’s impending marriage to Darnley causes a constitutional crisis within both realms: In England, Elizabeth is advised by her court to oppose the marriage for fear that Darnley, an English noble, will elevate Mary’s claim to the Crown. In Scotland, Mary’s council is suspicious of Darnley as they fear an English takeover. Both kingdoms demand his return to England, but Mary refuses, thus enraging Moray to furiously leave her court and mount a rebellion against her. Darnley marries Mary, only for her to discover him in bed with her friend and private secretary, David Rizzio, the following morning. Faced with insurgency and infidelity, Mary decides to quash the rebel forces but spares both Rizzio and Moray. She demands Darnley give her a child. When a child is conceived, Mary declares that the child is the “heir to Scotland and England” — which deeply offends the English.Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)Moray colludes with Darnley’s father Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, to undermine Mary, spreading rumours about Mary’s adultery and that her child was illegitimately fathered by Rizzio. Hearing the rumours, John Knox vehemently preaches to his parish that Mary is an adulteress. Fearing the accusations against Mary and the possible discovery of his homosexuality, Darnley is coerced by the under-miners to join them in murdering Rizzio and reluctantly delivers the final blow. Mary discovers the plot and agrees to pardon the men involved provided that she is presented with the evidence that Darnley had taken part. She ultimately forgives Moray and asks Elizabeth to be her child’s godmother. Together, they agree that the child is heir presumptive, much to the chagrin of the English court. Mary banishes Darnley but refuses to divorce him despite the appeals of her council, which then approaches her adviser and protector, the Earl of Bothwell, to have him killed. In the ensuing melee after Darnley’s death, Mary is forced to flee and leave her child behind. The following morning, Bothwell advises that her council have decided that she marry a Scotsman immediately, which she hesitantly agrees to. This induces Knox to preach to the Scots that Mary is a “harlot” who had her husband killed, leading Moray and the rest of her court to demand her abdication. Despite furiously objecting to it, Mary eventually abdicates her throne and flees to England.Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)Learning of Mary’s arrival in England, Elizabeth arranges for a clandestine meeting with her. Mary asks for Elizabeth’s help to take back her throne. Elizabeth is reluctant to go to war on behalf of a Catholic, but instead promises a safe exile in England as long as Mary does not aid her enemies. Mary indignantly responds that if she does, it will only be because Elizabeth forced her to do so, and threatens that should Elizabeth murder her, she should remember that she “murdered her own sister and queen”. Elizabeth orders that Mary is placed under house arrest in England and eventually receives compelling evidence that Mary had conspired with her enemies to have her assassinated. Pressured, and with no other choice, Elizabeth ultimately orders Mary’s execution. As Mary is walked to the scaffold, a remorseful Elizabeth cries for Mary, who reveals a bright red dress, implying herself a martyr. In her final thoughts, Mary wishes her son James well and hopes for peace upon his reign.Saoirse Ronan in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)The post-script reveals that upon Elizabeth’s death in 1603, James became the first monarch to rule both Scotland and England.While the story of Mary and Elizabeth has been made before; I was fascinated by this story because of the leads. Saorsie Ronan and Margot Robbie are just terrific in the roles. The story moved along intercutting between the two queens. Ms. Ronan has the bigger role as Mary and is every inch the queen. Ms. Robbie as Elizabeth is very good, and becomes a hideous caricature of that queen as she ages. The machinations of the queens’ courts and political intrigue that lead to Mary’s end are fascinating. The costumes, makeup, cinematography and direction are all first rate.