Esther McCarthy reviews Fighting With My Family and The Hole in the Ground
Fighting With My Family (15A) ****
THE REMARKABLE true story of how Saraya Jade Bevis went from wrestling in her local gym in Norwich to becoming WWE superstar Paige is told in this lively and lovely comedy drama from Stephen Merchant.
The movie focuses on the rise of the twenty something WWE fighter who, we learn, grew up immersed in the sport. Born into a closely knit wrestling family who are passionate about wrestling, there is joy and excitement when both Raya and her brother, Zac, get a long-dreamed-of opportunity to try out for WWE.
Lena Headey and Nick Frost are having a kind-of-infectious blast as their parents, fellow wrestling freaks who are entertainingly colourful and rough around the edges.
But circumstances don’t go completely to plan and when Raya is the only one of the two kids to land a spot on the much-sought-after training programme, she faces a huge challenge.
Not only must she immerse herself in a highly competitive and cut-throat training contest, but she must do so without the support and company of her family for the first time.
It’s all a little generic but utterly enjoyable and likeable. Paige’s story is a special one that crucially transcends the sport.
Best of all, Florence Pugh is terrific as the lead character, anchoring her in reality and making you truly invest in the battles she faces.
The Hole in the Ground (15A) ***
THIS SPOOKY Irish horror/psychological thriller feels like a game changer for Dublin actress Seána Kerslake, who was widely praised for her role when this movie had its world premiere at Sundance last month.
She is great as a troubled mum in this physically demanding and scary performance. Coupled with Lee Cronin’s assured direction, it proves a largely effective combination. Nobody’s reinventing the wheel here, but it’s atmospheric and tense.
Kerslake plays Sarah, a young mother who moves to a remote home for a new start with her young son, Chris (a remarkable Quinn Markey) following the break-up of her relationship with his father.
But from the opening moments there’s an eeriness to the neighbourhood, and Sarah is terrified when Chris briefly disappears into the woodlands behind the house where, it emerges, there is a large sinkhole in the ground.
Is Sarah losing her mind or is there a malevolent force at play? All involved do a fine job at maintaining their poker faces.