When is an underdog sports movie not an underdog sports movie? If it doesn’t have that Hollywood sheen to it, does it count? What if it’s a scrappy little indie? That’s Girlfight. Sure, on the surface it’s about a girl who learns boxing, but it doesn’t hit on any of the cliches that would make it your classic Rocky-esque flick.
Michelle Rodriguez (in what I believe was her debut, but I’m too lazy to confirm) is a high school girl in Brooklyn. Prospects are low, self esteem is low, attitude is high. She begins training as a boxer, which ends up being more of a fight than the fights themselves. Girls don’t box. Girls don’t get trained as boxers. Girls don’t get fights. It doesn’t matter. This is the one thing she has and she’ll fight for it.
There’s no training montage, no dire need to win because a plot device depends on it, no inspirational coach, none of that crap. It’s simply a film about a girl fighting for her place in the world. Boxing happens to be the way she does that, and may hopefully be her ticket out. The film is more about her internal journey, and it’s strong in the way that a well done indie film can be.
Rodriguez is perfect. Yes, her acting ability and career choices may be questionable (which Billy Eichner hilariously illustrated in his “What does Michelle Rodriguez bring to the table” game that I can’t find a YouTube clip of), but this role is what she was born to play. It’s no wonder that she quickly moved up into higher profile roles. She’s got the attitude and determination and strength to carry this film and make us care about her character’s journey. Nothing else she’s ever done has ever compared.