Journeyman is a film waiting ringside to deliver a heavy, gut-wrenching blow; it’s not a sucker punch – you know it’s coming from the film’s traditional structure and triumphant opening act – but it’ll leave you reeling emotionally nonetheless.
This film could easily be considered Paddy Considine’s bid for an Oscar (or two). That’s no bad thing necessarily, or cynicism, but Journeyman is one of those triumph-over-adversity films, following a brutal takedown after the first act, that the Academy loves. Considine writes and directs himself in a believable performance as hard-grafting boxer Matty that becomes particularly impressive once he must confront massive brain injury.
Jodie Whittaker meets him blow-for-blow in her performance as his wife Emma, providing the script’s beating heart. Matty might be suffering terribly, but it’s Emma who knows and lives it more than anyone else, shouldering all the responsibility. She is literally left holding the baby, with no one to help. Whittaker just exudes poignancy effortlessly.
One of the things Journeyman executes authentically is showing upfront how badly people react when their loved ones suffer a traumatic injury – most retreat, feeling helpless, like members of Matty’s team (portrayed by Paul Popplewell and Tony Pitts, a man very convincingly cast in the world of boxing) who just don’t know how to deal with it – so they avoid dealing with him at all. As the slow road to (some) recovery beckons, there are some lighter, jokey moments that draw their strength from their impressive honesty.
Journeyman’s problem is that its idea is not particularly original. From Rocky to Million Dollar Baby, this ground has been trod before and is tough opposition to put Journeyman with in the ring. Considine has done a good job though, gathering an especially strong cast and penning a well-crafted script.
CAST: Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Tony Pitts
DIRECTOR: Paddy Considine
WRITER: Paddy Considine
SYNOPSIS: Boxer Matty Burton suffers serious head trauma during the last fight of his career. The fallout of such life-altering injuries has a heavy impact on his marriage, his life and his family.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]