Toni, an 11-year-old tomboy, trains as a boxer with her brother at a rec center in Cincinnati’s West End, but becomes fascinated by the dance drill team that also practices there. Drawn to their strength and confidence, Toni eventually joins the group, tirelessly rehearsing the routines, befriending some of the girls, and even piercing her ears to fit in. But when members of the tight-knit group start experiencing mysterious fits of shaking and fainting, Toni’s desire for acceptance becomes complicated.
The Fits brims with breakout talent, including Royalty Hightower’s captivating Toni. But filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer, in her feature debut, puts forth a striking and distinctive vision—a cinematic meditation on movement, the body, adolescence, and identity that eludes categorization. Working from real stories of mass hysteria, Holmer creates a subtle visual grammar to convey a coming-of-age story in terms of movement and choreography rather than conventional dramatics. Her atmospheric aesthetic, vivid acoustic landscape, and dissonant score establish an ambiguous psychological space through which Toni moves, as if her journey through The Fits is itself a dance.