An aimless young man who is scalping tickets, gambling and drinking, agrees to coach a Little League team from the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago as a condition of getting a loan from a friend.
At 18, Diana has a chip on her shoulder; she's close to expulsion from high school for fighting, her mother is dead, her dad is surly, the popular girls at school set her teeth on edge, she knows men can cause pain. When she picks up her younger brother at a Brooklyn gym where he boxes to please his father, she decides she wants to train. Hector, a coach, reluctantly agrees to teach her. It's soon clear to him that Diana has talent; he pushes her. She spends time with another young fighter, Adrian, who has a girlfriend, but Diana intrigues him and stirs real feelings he tries to articulate. She, too, must accommodate her toughness and ironic detachment to her feelings for him. Written by
I was not expecting the powerful filmmaking experience of "Girlfight". It's an Indie; low-budget, no big-name actors, freshman director. I had heard it was good, but not this good.
Placed in a contemporary, ethnic, working-class Brooklyn, Karyn Kusama has done an extraordinary job of capturing the day-do-day struggles of urban Latinos. Diana, the protagonist, is seething with anger and lashes out at her high school peers, getting in trouble with the school and her friends. She is being raised by her single father, who appears to love her and her brother, but applies a strict, sex-based double standard on his children. The father's double standard is illustrated by the fact that Tiny, the brother, is taking boxing lessons at the local gym, but Diana is denied similar pursuits. On an errand to the gym to meet Tiny, Diana is captivated by boxing. Tiny doesn't like boxing, so he and Diana trade places; he gets the money from Dad then gives it to Diana to take the lessons in his place.
This is actually a feel-good movie, as Diana grows and learns about herself through boxing, meets a guy, and addresses some very serious issues head-on. There's no giggly, 'everything that can go right does go right' resolution a la "Bend It Like Beckham". The reality and attendant personal issues are too big for pat resolutions, but in my opinion, "Girlfight" is a better and more satisfying film for it.
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