The basic story: Diana, an inner city teenage girl with a
penchant for getting into school brawls decides to become a
boxer. The story is about about work, and finding a sense of
self-worth, and is definitely worth seeing. For once, the actors
look like real people instead of movie stars. Fabulous. Even
though this is director Karyn Kusama's first film, it shows an
assuredness that I wish all films had. It never makes a false
step and it develops its characters well.
There's a scene that sticks with me. Diana is in a match with
her boyfriend who is also an amateur boxer. Before the fight, the
referee, an old man, sings the American national anthem. The
whole thing. We see Diana and Adrian preparing separately, but we
get to hear the entire song. And then it's just the ref in the
ring, stating the rules, ensuring that the judges are ready. We
see him tend to everything that must be done before a fight, and
it is done in such a way to make his actions look like those of a
holy man conducting a service.
Consider the similarities: Both a fight and a church service
involve a cast of characters, easily recognizable from a distance
by their costume. In the ring, you have the referee in white
shirt, black bow tie, and black trousers. In either corner, the
fighters, each wearing different coloured trunks. In a church,
you might have a minister in a white gown, or dressed in black
with a white collar. There may be helpers dressed in suits, but
not gowns, not like the clergy.
There is music in both a boxing match and in a church
ceremony. A bell for the ring, and maybe the same for the
service. There is a prescribed order for both, and it must be
strictly followed. Everyone knows in broad strokes what's coming
up; there are seldom any real surprises in either unless, say,
all of the lights mysteriously go out right in the middle of the
action. Events play themselves out, and everything comes to an
orderly end when the official declares it over and the audience
is dismissed. Whether you root for Right over Evil, or the Blue
Trunks over Red, it all looks the same.
Now what do you suppose that means?