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Sundance Festival 2011 – “Knuckle” Review by the Raven

Posted: January 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Most documentaries seem to try to make you go out and do good for the environment, or to help someone.  In “Knuckle”, the only thing you are asked to is sit back and watch a way of life seldom seem by outsiders unfold in front of your eyes.  Director Ian Palmer has a gem of a story on his lap and he wastes no time getting your attention.  We are thrown into the ring with two fighters and get glimpses of them on a journey.   Palmer followed a fairly unknown group of people known as the Travellers, a clannish gyspy-like people in England.  The two main groups he followed were the Quinn-McDonaghs and the Joyces.

These two clans have been at war for over 30 years.  And the way they solve their differences is to taunt each other into bare knuckle fighting bouts, mostly down somewhere in the countryside in secret.  It took Palmer over 9 years to truly get to the bottom of the feud that has pitted these families against each other for over 30 years.  James Quinn seems to be a patient and reluctant fighter.  He tries often to get out of the fighting, but money and family pride continually seem to draw him back in for one last fight.  And then you have his cousins, the Joyces, who just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut at any given time.

Throughout the 92 minute film, we are shown archival footage of grown men fighting away their difference.  At one time, two of the patriarchs of the family “duke it out”, and director Palmer likens it to watching two grandfathers in a fist fight”.  Which was actually quite a sad thing to observe.  At the end of the film, the clans are at peace…but you can’t help but wonder which hotheaded idiot will start the whole thing all over?  An amazing look at humans at their most vunerable but tough, “Knuckle” is one documentary not to be missed.

Review (c) 2011 Stephe Raven | [email protected]