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Film Review: FITTING IN (2023): Maddie Ziegler Gives a Layered Performance in Molly McGlynn’s Dramatic Gem

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Maddie Ziegler Fitting In

Fitting In Review

Fitting In (2023) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Molly McGlynn and starring Maddie Ziegler, Emily Hampshire, Djouliet Amara, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Christian Rose, Dennis Andres, Richard Barlow, Mariah Boehk, Rhoslynne Bugay, Emily Drew, Ki Griffin, Georgiana Hansen, Emma Hunter, Melody A. Johnson, Stephanie Kast, Lou Mauro, Milena Raso and Grey Reich.

Molly McGlynn’s insightful new drama, Fitting In, shows audiences what happens when a young teenage girl named Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) realizes that she will have difficulties having sex due to a specific condition which is similar to the one Hitler’s wife had which made it difficult to have intercourse. There’s a name for the condition (MRKH) but the condition isn’t what the movie is about. The film is more focused on the difficulties Lindy has in trying to cope with the inevitable reality that she will probably not be able to have children the traditional way. Also, having sex will not be an easy activity for Lindy to engage in either. The viewer will understand Lindy’s dilemma as the movie unveils layer after layer of Lindy’s personality, slowly revealing a rather normal teenager underneath all the problems that ensue regarding her condition.

Emily Hampshire is Rita, Lindy’s mom. Rita wants the best for her daughter and is struggling to raise her as a single parent. Rita unsuccessfully tries to use dating apps to meet people throughout the movie. Rita’s unlucky in love but has a good heart even though Lindy doesn’t understand how good a mother Rita really is. Lindy learns a lot about her unfortunate condition which gets in the way of sex with her would-be boyfriend, Adam (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai). The movie surprises by not turning Adam into a jerk. He likes Lindy and tries to treat her right but Lindy is too afraid of revealing what’s going on with herself biologically and isn’t honest with him.

Djouliet Amara plays Vivian, Lindy’s best friend, who runs track just like Lindy does. The pair are good friends but it’s hard for Lindy to explain all the feelings she is experiencing. Lindy chooses to explore herself through interacting with people in her town and she shows up at an LGBTQ+ meeting at her school one day. Lindy meets an intersex person named Jax (Ki Griffin). It turns out that Jax has a good heart and is easy to get along with. This leads to some romantic interaction between the pair. However, things get surprisingly complicated when Lindy doesn’t kiss Jax at a party one night.

Fitting In is not a typical coming-of-age story. Ziegler masterfully brings a lot of depth to Lindy who is a character that goes through a tremendous amount of insecurities during the duration of the film’s story line. What sets Fitting In apart from other films is that the situation Lindy is going through is entirely rare. Most teenagers can express themselves through sex and when sex is stripped from the list of immediate possibilities for Lindy, she goes through some complex emotions and is determined to find a way to have sex even if it’s with a local goody two-shoes type of guy who works at a fast food joint.

The supporting cast has been well selected. Ki Griffin certainly takes top honors in the film’s supporting roster as Jax who is a complex, but also simple, character who just wants to be able to express who they are. When Jax gets the opportunity for romance with Lindy, they try to be kind and loyal even though Lindy is clearly not ready for anything serious given the complexities she is facing in her daily endeavors. The other stand-out turn is from Emily Hampshire as the mom, Rita. Hampshire doesn’t ring false for a moment during the very serious and touching scenes between Rita and Lindy.

It’s important to note that Fitting In is frank in the way it explores Lindy’s sexuality. At the same time, the film is very moving as we begin to care about how Lindy will proceed with life. Lindy falls into some pitfalls in life such as getting drunk and putting herself in danger and Ziegler is easy to sympathize with during her downward spiral. She begins to take risks she shouldn’t have to take just to prove she’s capable of living a somewhat normal life.

Interestingly enough, Fitting In ends with the song, “Barbie Girl,” played during the ending credits. The irony in all this is that people turned up in droves to see Barbie and don’t seem to know much about Fitting In which is just as good in every way as Barbie is even though it’s, of course, much different. One can draw their own conclusions as to how the chosen song applies to McGlynn’s touching film.

Fitting In is nothing less than a powerful story of coping with being different and triumphing against the odds. By the film’s end, Lindy has learned a lot but the most important truth for the character becomes the way Lindy accepts and embraces the given circumstances in the plot. McGlynn has made a distinct and sympathetic movie that deserves some kind of mainstream success.

Rating: 8/10

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