Women’s professional sports have come along in leaps and bounds recently and this rambunctious, uplifting and tender movie tells the story of one of the trailblazers. From Norwich, where she grew up in a family of wrestlers, Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) crossed the Atlantic, changed her name to Paige and became the youngest ever WWE Divas Champion. The status of wrestling as a serious sport is often scoffed at, and Hutch (Vince Vaughn), her demanding American coach, concedes that its contests are ‘fictitious, not fake’, as much showbiz as anything else. But it is a career that Saraya and her bother Zac (Jack Lowden) have pursued with a passion all their lives. For both of the youngsters, their goal has long been to make it into the big arenas of the US and they are thrilled when they get their opportunity to impress Hutch at a London audition. But it is only Saraya who is chosen to travel to Florida for further grooming and assessment. Zac is gutted and the film’s emotional load is borne by his reaction to not being selected, as well as Saraya’s struggle to cope with her new, hard-nosed environment. Families can be torn apart by such traumas, but the parents, Ricky and Julia (Nick Frost, Lena Headey), remain rock-solid and supportive of their kids. I laughed out loud a couple of times – negotiating a payment for one of his troupe, Ricky asks Union Jack how he’d feel about having a garbage bin lid smashed in his face. Then he does it, and the wrestler nods, ‘it’ll be okay’ – and was equally touched when friends and family crowded into the Norwich living room to watch Paige take her shot at the title. In a wonderful cast, Pugh and Lowden shine as you ride the highs and lows with them. Rejection is the pits, but accepting it and moving on can be as demanding as any challenge in the ring. Paige’s success would be hollow without her brother’s embrace, and in the end love triumphs.
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