Making her directorial debut, Jessica Hynes' The Fight is a keen reminder that she was one of the creative forces behind the stonkingly good sitcom, Spaced, one of the best British shows of the past two decades. The film successfully straddles the space between comedy and drama is an intimate portrait of the domestic strains a family go through and the ripples felt from our past actions.
Hynes, who writes as well as directs, takes on the lead role of Tina. An overworked nurse, she must also deal with her parent's marital troubles and her daughter's bullying pains. Each see a reflection back to her troubled childhood and past failings.
At times The Fight resembles the first half of a TV series, with the film at its best when it is arranging the groundwork for the intimate portrayal Hynes is constructing. This is a multi-layered, engaging work that benefits greatly from some excellent central performances. Hynes herself is great in the lead role, giving a nicely understated turn. But it is Shaun Parkes who makes the biggest impression as Mick, Tina's husband. There is an easy chemistry between the two, giving their interactions a warmth that nicely offsets some of the film's heavier moments. Parkes has many of the laughs here as well as one of film's more interesting subplots, and is a likeable presence throughout. There are fun cameos from the likes of Alice Lowe and Russell Brand, while Sally Phillips is welcome in a small supporting role. Sennia Nannua comes much of the emotional weight as Tina's bullied daughter and Nannua builds on her exemplary work in The Girl With All The Gifts.
A small-scale drama, The Fight feels like a labour of love for Hynes, one that manages to overcome its budgetary limitations and underpowered narrative. With a slew of grounded, compelling performances this is a debut worth checking out, one that I hope a wide audience will be able to embrace.
This is a London Film Festival preview and The Fight will be released at a later date.