January 31st, 2024
MOVIE: FITTING IN
STARRING: MADDIE ZIEGLER, EMILY HAMPSHIRE, DJOULIET AMARA, KI GRIFFIN
DIRECTED BY: MOLLY MCGLYNN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The cultural ripple effects that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie should have on movies for women will (hopefully) reverberate for many years to come. We are already seeing it in 2024 with the release of Scrambled and films that deal with women’s daily lives, both on a personal and inspiring level. They are not just for women to feel companionship with one another, but for the uneducated such as myself, to engage with stories that should have been told many years before. Fitting In is a specifically strong story, about a teenage girl’s experience after being diagnosed with a reproductive condition, and how she navigates high school. These kinds of struggles are quite universal, but writer/director Molly McGlynn unflinchingly portrays them. With a strong performance from Maddie Ziegler, Fitting In is a wonderful film, set to remind us that there is no such thing as “normal”, and that being a teenager is always hard.
Lindy (Ziegler) is a high school junior, living at her recently deceased grandmother’s home with her single mother Rita (Emily Hampshire). Like all teenagers, sex is often the topic of all conversation. Her best friend is Vivian (Djouliet Amara), with whom she shares stories about boys and her feelings for her boyfriend Adam (D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai). Now that she’s attempting to have sex, it sparks a visit to her gynecologist for birth control, even though she’s yet to get her period. What’s revealed on the visit is that Lindy has a rare condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome. This means she does not have a uterus or cervix, along with a vaginal canal that ends short. It’s a revelation that rocks her world, setting a path for complications ahead of her.
With McGlynn’s layered script, Fitting In expands beyond the classic coming-of-age story, never shying away from the hard truths. Through Ziegler’s balanced performance, it allows the viewer to go along, learning about her condition, and seeing how she navigates her relationships. At first, she pushes everyone away, lashing out by drinking too much or agreeing to have sex with a guy she just met at a party. Her mother does all that she can. When rumors start to get out Lindy quits track and would rather run from it all. It’s when she sparks a relationship with a non-binary teenager in her support group named Jax (Ki Griffin) that she finds comfort in others dealing with similar conditions.
Admittedly, I have often been skeptical about Ziegler’s acting abilities, as the Dance Moms star-turned-actor felt like a manufactured celebrity. Although there are a few stiff moments and McGlynn’s script can sometimes veer into “after-school special” territory, it is Ziegler who truly carries the film. There is much to be said for her fearlessness in the role, taking on a character that can be a wonderful representation of a person in this situation. As Ziegler continues her journey as an actor it will only get better from here.
It’s the variety of emotions that make Fitting In rise to the top. The subject matter of women dealing with their periods, the awkward approach to sex, and the uncomfortable conversations that take place with your gynecologist are all discussed. McGlynn deserves high marks. Those topics need to be at the forefront for both men and women. Remove the stigmas, the childish fears of a woman’s body, and allow everyone to Fit In.
FITTING IN IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 2ND, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady