Coming out of Sundance, this fascinating low-budget drama features the kind of bold, skillful filmmaking that seems largely missing today; it offers a profound puzzle to ponder but no easy answers. Making her feature directing debut, Anna Rose Holmer uses industrialized locations (the gym, a crummy-looking apartment complex, an overpass, etc.), each meticulously framed, to set her mood. The weather is overcast, and it could be any city, at any time of year.
No adults are shown, except out-of-focus in the background, and Toni is often isolated in the frame. It's telling that the title, The Fits, uses a word that relates to both what the girls are going through and being unable to "fit" in. Only the unusual music indicates that something strange is going on; the fits themselves are simply "metaphors" and are up for interpretation. The overall effect is surprisingly complete; it's touching, emotional, thought-provoking, and visually satisfying, with an exemplary, star-making performance by newcomer Hightower.