“The Fencer” tells the story of Estonian professional fencer Endel Nelis, who, fleeing from the Russian secret police, finds work as a gym teacher in a small town and unexpectedly forms strong ties with the people he meets. In keeping with the classic underdog narrative, Endel brings fencing to the rural students and coaches them to rise beyond their station. The film is perhaps a bit simplistic, with one-dimensional stock characters and predictable narratives. Furthermore, the film fails to provide a substantial context for fencing’s place in post-World War Russian politics, which would be helpful in understanding the gravity of Endel’s choice to teach fencing. However, “The Fencer” manages to express a great deal of emotion through nonverbal communication, evident in the romantic relationship between Endel and a fellow teacher. Despite its shortcomings, “The Fencer” is ultimately a touching story about love and growth.