Tomboy-turned-dancer seeks acceptance

Royalty Hightower stars as Toni in the movie “the Fits.”

“The Fits”

Good (2 stars)

Unrated .

Running time: 72 minutes

Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratorie

Toni (Royalty Hightower) is an 11-year-old girl growing up in the rough projects of inner-city Cincinnati. The prepubescent adolescent keeps out of trouble by hanging out at the local recreation center with her big brother, Jermaine (Da’Sean Minor) and his BFF, Donte (Antonio A.B. Grant, Jr.). Trouble is, Toni has developed a reputation as a tomboy because she’s spent so much time training to be become a boxer, mostly out of admiration for Jermaine, an amateur champion.

Everything changes the week Toni decides to join the girls’ dance team that also practices in the gym. Since she is already athletic enough, her initial challenge rests in just learning the steps and perfecting the choreography. Meanwhile, a side benefit is that she gets to enjoy the sort of female camaraderie she’s missed by being immersed in a macho sport dominated by guys.

Unfortunately, Toni still has a hard time finding acceptance by the tight-knit group of girls. And that endeavor is further frustrated when her teammates start suffering from mysterious fainting spells. Will the newcomer be fully embraced, or might she be blamed for this inexplicable development?

So unfolds “The Fits,” an ethereal, coming-of-age drama effectively exploring a tentative tweener’s rigorous rites-of-passage. The movie marks the promising directorial debut of Anna Rose Holmer who has managed to make a decent movie on a micro-budget.

Short on dialogue, long on atmospherics, “The Fits” feels like a solid student flick that hasn’t quite been fleshed out to feature-length format. Nevertheless, future star Royalty Hightower ‘s inspired performance as the protagonist, here, is reminiscent of Kerry Washington’s in her first picture, Our Song, a similarly-modest, ghetto-based production.

A mellow meditation on a beautiful, little black girl beginning to bloom!

More from Around NYC