It’s safe to say the past four years have been anything but boring – this is certainly the case for the United States. Starting with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, multiple rifts have grown along the lines of politics, race, and even the notion of human dignity. The Fight – set to be released by Magnolia Pictures on July 31, 2020 – offers a brief snapshot of life in these past four years. More importantly, it paints a portrait of those directly affected.
The film has the luxury of being released on the eve of a critical presidential election. Some may see it as a wake-up call to the pitfalls of the present leadership, others may see it as a piece of propaganda. Yet, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Fight is a sobering reminder that, no, life was not exactly “better” before the epidemic. If anything, it was as painfully normal as it is today.
The Fight follows the careers of four ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) lawyers in the era of President Donald Trump. All lawyers serve clients from different backgrounds, from a transgender service member to a 17-year-old Latina immigrant who is refused an abortion after being raped. In possibly the most politically polarized time since the American Civil War, the lawyers face a battle like no other – to fight for the dignity of human beings against the federal government.
One key strength of The Fight is that it lets the key figures – the lawyers and their clients – speak for themselves. Individuals who are otherwise buried in news articles become human beings with feelings and emotions. The lawyers work overtime in their offices while their clients face a continual battle for their lives. Their stories may be the subject of news reports, but rarely are their faces and stories given up-close-and-personal treatment. The Fight does just that in letting individuals speak their truths with no interruption.
Another key strength is that the directors/creators do not interject any narrative or dialogue to frame their views. Too often, in the case of say Michael Moore or Werner Herzog, the audience is given the director’s direct opinion – i.e., what they should be thinking. Directors Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman, and Elyse Steinberg show genuine respect for the audience’s intelligence because they don’t tell them what to think. It is definitely presented from a certain angle, but the only ones giving their viewpoints are those on camera. Anyone can watch and make personal bonds with those shown in this film, with no one telling them how to feel.
However, the critical weakness of this documentary is that it will not be viewed – or loved – by everyone. The principal antagonists are the present-day Trump Administration, which enacts policies against the clients presented in this documentary. Opponents of the administration will find ammunition for their anger, whereas supporters will likely dismiss The Fight as another partisan hit-piece. As before, the film’s power comes from the testimonies of all who are shown, but ultimately, the audience will decide whether these testimonies are relevant.
The Fight is most definitely a challenging documentary to watch in times like this. It portrays individuals living in a difficult time, and it pushes audiences to at least project themselves into situations they wouldn’t otherwise find themselves in.
On these grounds, The Fight fulfills the criteria necessary for a documentary. It is presented from a specific point of view, yes – but it offers a slice of reality that cannot be denied.
Review screener provided
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The Fight is a competent documentary that allows audiences to bond with those presented in the film. Although the stories are compelling, The Fight will not appeal to everyone based on its obvious political leanings.
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