Movie review: "The Fits" is a wildly original debut film worth exploring

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

In a summer season when we often note how risk-averse Hollywood is when it comes to doing anything original, a movie like "The Fits" is a refreshing burst.

No one could possibly fault "The Fits" for lacking originality. If anything, it's too original, as I don't really have enough of a frame of reference to tell you how objectively "good" or "bad" it is. (Pro-tip: My whole gig is objective. I get that.)

Our protagonist is 11-year-old Toni (newcomer Royalty Hightower), a tomboyish girl who we first meet training to be a boxer in a gym.

She soon draws interest from a different group in the gym in the form of an all-girl dance troupe with a unique and spasming style all of its own. Then things get strange.

And when I say strange, I mean strange. "The Fits" is gorgeous and rhythmic and often hypnotic, but it's also very abstract - even if the themes of the social morays of being a young girl come through.

First-time director Anna Rose Holmer establishes herself as a singular new voice almost immediately. "The Fits" is almost impossible define, kind of a coming-of-age psychological thriller with a plot and weirdness worthy of David Lynch.

As I've said, I was so immersed in this universe that I find it hard to say where the film fits on the scale of being "good," whatever your definition of the term. It's definitely challenging, and I want to give it a second viewing. So let's go ahead and call that really good.

"The Fits"

Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

3 ½ stars out of 4