Frida Wallberg is a Swedish World Champion boxer; the film starts with her defending her title with success, but then follows her journey as her second fight as defending champion almost costs her her life. From the first scene the audience is right with Frida as she pushes herself to the limit. Frida admits herself that she is quite a ‘cold person’, but the documentary’s access to her family life, her relationship with her boyfriend Robert and the increasing openness to the camera means by the end of the film the woman beneath this tough exterior starts to emerge and thaw.
Filming two boxing matches and making it interesting to an audience who aren’t necessary into boxing is an impressive feat. While fiction films have actors, studio lighting and the ability to do several takes, Director Susanna Edward had but once chance. Yet the film’s clever editing and deft use of sound delivers incredibly tense matches in an immersive and entertaining way. The use of a ticking clock, strings and sound effects of landing a punch makes watching the matches a visceral experience. The fast-paced editing between Wallberg’s blows and her loved ones’ tense faces creates a great piece of cinematic film.
The film juxtaposes the two Wallberg personas – that of the boxer, and that of the mother, daughter and girlfriend – through emotive editing. In one touching scene Wallberg and her daughter are cuddling on the sofa; as Wallberg leans in to hug her daughter, the scene cuts dramatically to her landing a powerful blow in training. What becomes clear is how boxing is such a psychological sport and as her relationships vary throughout the film, particularly with Robert, this seems to have a knock-on effect in the ring.
Far from being a film about boxing, Golden Girl uncovers the woman behind the World Champion: what drives her, what hinders her, and how she struggles with life after a devastating blow throws everything into question. A gripping watch even for the non-boxing fan.
DIRECTOR: Susanna Edward
SYNOPSIS: Frida Wallberg is a World Champion boxer, who has to fight to defend her title and, after a devastating blow, fights to save her life.