New movie The Fight depicts boxing as a route to female empowerment. Danny Flexen speaks to its writer, director and star, Jessica Hynes
Jessica Hynes is an actress most frequently associated with the comedy genre, having starred in much-loved series like Spaced and The Royle Family. As she explained in a lengthy interview available on the Seconds Out YouTube channel however, the inspiration behind her first feature film as a writer and director - Hynes also takes on the challenging lead role - came from an unexpected source and one which dictated the direction of the project as a whole. The compelling result is The Fight, part domestic drama, part vicarious Rocky-like experience (if Rocky was a troubled, middle-aged mum of three from Folkestone), that is released in cinemas tonight (Friday, March 11).
"I’d been going to a local boxfit class," said Hynes. "I really enjoyed it. First of all I was struck by the beauty of this old boxing gym; the place seemed really cinematic and beautiful to me. That began to stir my imagination, thinking ’It’d be lovely to film in here.’ It was a female class and at the end of our time, proper female boxers would start to get in the ring and spar. I was quite captivated by them and started to think, ’What would it take to be going from where I am as a middle-aged boxfit mum to be standing where they are?’"
That question planted a seed that grew into Tina, who seeks solace in boxing, both from her parents’ failing marriage and the problems encountered by her children, one of whom is being bullied by the daughter of her own one-time schoolmate. The Noble Art serves as a tool for self-empowerment; less pointless aggression and more rewarding assertion. As Hynes puts it, "Boxing becomes the thing that she focuses on, that pulls her through a really hard time in her life."
While conducting further research to ensure the boxing scenes were faithfully rendered, Hynes came across female boxing legend Ann Wolfe, who provided the type of insight the film-maker was looking for and served as a template for the film’s no-nonsense coach, Vic, played by Cathy Tyson.
"I was really inspired when I came across Ann," Hynes notes. "The best female boxer, at least according to her. She didn’t just have the passion, she had the skill which her trainer channelled and she was a natural. She’s just very upfront and I love her, that sort of energy, just upfront and direct. I was drawn to all of that. Vic was sort of inspired by her."
To hear more about the film, and the involvement of amateur clubs here in Britain, please listen to the FULL INTERVIEW HERE.