In GIRLFIGHT, Diana Guzman (Michelle Rodriguez) is a tough high school girl with a violent streak. Between problems at school, a father who belittles her, and a lonely social life, she searches for some way to find respect, love, and challenge. Diana finds all those things in the boxing ring at a gritty Brooklyn gym, where she begins training against her father's will and eventually earns the gym's championship for female boxers.
Rodriguez's performance is what carries the film, as she makes the character of Diana Guzman real in every sense. Guzman is an awkward teenage girl whose only advantage is that she's angry. As she channels this anger into determination, she doesn't become a flawless heroine--when she gets punched in the face, it hurts--but the way she grows internally is visible, and that is the truly beautiful thing about this film. Director Karyn Kusama should also be commended for the film's subtle communication of difficult family issues and its objectivity in telling this slightly feminist tale. The inspiring soundtrack features a terrific title song by Theodore Shapiro as well as hits by artists such as Queen Latifah. A story of willpower, strength, and endurance, GIRLFIGHT wins on all fronts.