Review by Sean Boelman
The Trump Administration has taken some actions that have affected people in ways unimaginable to the average American, and the new documentary The Fight showcases the people who are working hard to remedy those effects. And while the film does sometimes get caught up in its attempts to be cinematic, it’s a powerful portrait of the good that still exists in the world.
The movie follows a group of ACLU lawyers as they set out on groundbreaking cases against the Trump Administration, one each in the area of voting rights, abortion rights, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ rights. A couple of these were considered “news-worthy” events, like the proposed inclusion of a citizenship question in the U.S. Census or a ban on transgender people serving in the military, but the more affecting are the ones dealing with more personal but still important issues.
At just an hour and thirty-six minutes, there’s not a whole lot of time to flesh out each of the stories individually, which is admittedly a bit disappointing. There are some really interesting things happening in each of them, enough so that this could have made for a phenomenal miniseries, but in a feature-length format, everything feels a bit condensed.
That said, all of these stories need to be told, and they work quite well together. The filmmakers cut between the four segments in a very natural way, using the statements made in one segment to accent and amplify the struggles of another. The use of juxtaposition here is absolutely phenomenal.
The main focus of this film is to encourage the amplification of unique and diverse voices, such as those heard in these cases. Unfortunately, this type of decision often disproportionately affects those who don’t have the means (whether financial or political) to be heard on a mass scale, and this movie is a small remedy for that.
However, it is almost disappointing that the film didn’t take more time with the victims involved in these cases. Watching the lawyers work their magic behind the scenes is certainly very compelling, and surprisingly entertaining, but by shifting the focus away from the people who are affected directly, it loses the emotional gut punch that it could have had.
Additionally, the sleek style comes at a bit of a cost. On one hand, the rapid editing and energetic soundtrack draw the viewer into the story and heighten the intensity, but it also changes the tone significantly. Rather than an exposé of issues, this is a tale of triumph, and when those issues are still present, the movie likely would have been better off being a bit more serious.
The Fight is a very entertaining documentary telling some magnificent stories, even if it doesn’t have the impact that it should. Still, as a glimpse into some of the great work the ACLU is doing, it’s essential viewing.
The Fight hits theaters and VOD on July 30.