"Thus open the gates of paradise."

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Girlfight

06 Apr 2002

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?

Related Sites

Girlfight (Official Site)
Girlfight (IMDB)