Begging for Unwarranted Approval
Premiered at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, and selected in competition at Sundance; The Fits is a film that desperately wants to be taken seriously, and first time writer/director Anna Rose Holmer does everything in her heavy-handed power to make that happen. Overtly ‘indie’ to the point of condescension, The Fits is everything hipster film critics beg for – a micro-budget drama with deliberately vague storylines pleading for inferred higher meaning. Every beatnik critic can facetiously claim they were the first to identify this movie as a transcendent masterpiece, so as not to disagree with their compatriots on Rotten Tomatoes.
Holmer employs camera work that is excessive severe – tightly zeroed in on star Royalty Hightower’s face, assymetrically framed, and pointing camera purposefully away from scene focal points. Holmer has studied her influences and peers alike; mimicking their methods with complete unoriginality. The film score is paired with the imitative camerawork; applying off-kilter stacco rhythmic tones all the whole reminding viewers – this film must be important because the cinematography and score is ‘anti-mainstream’.
Moving onto the film’s dialogue, The Fits doesn’t seem to have any, or at least nothing worth recalling. Another deliberate attempt for uniqueness that rings false, the lack of dialogue may have been writer/director Anna Rose Holmer’s way to show she can effectively push plot development without relying on the ‘crutch’ of characters speaking to one another. There is certainly a place for films that don’t rely heavily on dialogue, but it is not a crutch to be avoided; and at its best, can be sublime and poetic. The lack of dialogue in The Fits doesn’t show the director’s acumen with story execution; it highlights the lack of a story.
This is a good lead into the plot of The Fits, centered on an inner city Cincinnati youth finding her way among peers in a dance troupe that is plagued by inexplicable violent ‘fits’. The Fits is a modest 72 minutes, and somehow was able to feel about an hour too long. This may have made an interesting 20 minute short film concerning 21st century mass hysteria, drawing comparison to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Instead, Holmer takes a blond stab at underdeveloped symbolism through ambiguity. Do the violent fits represent maturation and womanhood? Is it a study on mass hysteria? Does Holmer even know what her film is about? Does it even matter?
The Fits stars a cast of unknowns from the film’s setting in Cincinnati, with a focus on realism. While actors performed realism-based performances, it should be noted that so little is going on in The Fits that very little is asked of the acting talent. There is no artistic stretching needed; just stand around and pretend their isn’t a camera crew watching them.
All of this; the camerawork, the score, the absence of dialogue, the muddled story, and muted performances all sum up to writer/director Anna Rose Holmer shouting ‘Look at the atmosphere I’ve created – I am a serious filmmaker’, when all that an be derived is ‘Look at my film, I can create a pale copy of better films.’
- Camerawork: 3/10 – Severe and heavy without purpose
- Score: 3/10 – Clumsily attempts to manipulate the audience
- Screenwriting: 2/10 – Poorly stretches a short story into a feature
- Acting: 4/10 – Nothing to speak of – good or bad
- Directing: 1/10 – Premeditative and Patronizing
3/10 – Writer/director Anna Rose Holmer delivers an offensively vain attempt at ‘indie’ film community acceptance, and disrespects audiences with her desperation.