Royalty Hightower leads in this superb meditation on mass hysteria.
Set in a Cincinnati community centre, boxer Toni leavers her brothers ringside to join the Lionesses drill team. Within days the girls begin to fall victim to violent seizure-like episodes, causing panic among their team-mates.
Royalty Hightower as Toni
The fits are about fitting in. Speculatively diagnosed as a ‘boyfriend disease’ they are a rite of passage that the girls must pass through to become women. Because Toni moves between the boxing gym and the dance hall so frequently, she must remain a pre-pubescent androgyne. The seizures appear to her to catalyse puberty faster than her newly pierced ears or varnished fingernails do; however, it becomes apparent that they are semi-contagious manifestations of psychological distress.
Q-Kidz drill team
This debut comes from Anna Rose Holmer, a first-time director who previously worked as a cinematographer and produced. She shares her experiences of seeking acceptance as a tomboy in an interview with Vogue. She co-wrote The Fits with producer Lisa Kjerulff and editor Saela Davis, the multi-talented multitasking trio masterfully shapes the production around the story. It is shorter than a full-length feature, with a perfect final fifteen minutes that drifts off into full physical cinema. Selecting her young cast from Cincinnati’s real-life drill squad Q-Kidz – of which Royalty is one – Holmer recruited the dancer cast to collaborate with the crew to choreograph its dance routines.
The Fits is an exemplary piece of filmmaking; a triumphant team-effort.