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Saturday, February 04, 2017

The Fits

I was flipping through the latest Film Comment and saw their 20 best list, which is derived from a poll of film critics. Now, these critics tend to like things esoteric and slow-moving, and generally spurn Hollywood. So I had seen only six of the 20 listed. But now, in this new wondrous age we live in, I realized I could see a number of them right then and there through live-streaming. Number 18 on the list was The Fits, which was free through my Amazon Prime membership. Imagine that--I read about a minute and minutes later I can watch it!

The Fits is only 72 minutes long, which was also appealing (now that I'm a teacher I like to go to bed early) but it seemed twice that. Directed on a microbudget by Anna Rose Holmer, using amateur actors, the film is a bit of a poem with a mystery--girls on a dance team are falling victim to seizures--the fits.

The main character is Toni, who hangs around the community center with her older brother, who runs the boxing gym. She learns how to box and workout, and is a tomboy. But she is drawn to the dance team, full of popular girls. She tries out and makes it, but then the girls get these seizures. She is determined not to have one, and thinks some of the girls want them. At first the drinking water is blamed, but nothing is found wrong in it.

There is no answer to the mystery and no real resolution of anything. Holmer used dancers from Cincinnati (where the film was shot) for the film, and one of them, with the great name of Royalty Hightower, was given the lead role. She isn't given much to say but has a nice way of listening and reacting.

If the seizures were a metaphor for something, I couldn't get it. Holmer is said to have researched similar incidents. They go back throughout history, the most famous being that nasty business in Salem. This also reminded me of Meghan Abbot's novel The Fever.

The Fits shows a lot of promise for Holmer, but I hope her next film is a bit less opaque.

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