‘Journeyman’ Review – “Powerful Drama Goes 10 Rounds With Your Emotions”
I sit here, hesitantly, about to give my second 5-star rating for a film that I have reviewed for Geektown and I am not quite sure how I feel about it. I think this more because, for something to get 5 stars from me, it has to stand out proud amongst its comparisons. It is only March, and I have had the opportunity to watch some of the best critically reviewed films of the year and, at the moment, nothing has stood out for me as the best of 2018. ‘Journeyman’, however, created a response and reaction in me that I cannot possibly quantify appropriately into a star rating, but I will do my best to explain right here.
‘Journeyman’ is written, directed by, and stars Paddy Considine and had its initial release in 2017 at the London Film Festival. The title refers to a boxer or fighter of adequate skill who does not have the calibre of a serious contender and Considine plays the central character Matty Burton who is reaching the end of his boxing career. The final fight of his career is approaching and Matty is preparing to retire and spend time with his wife (Whittaker) and baby. The story is less about the physical fight he endures against the antagonistic Bryte (Anthony Welsh) but more about the metaphorical fight to regain his identity after a life-changing brain injury changes his, and his families, life forever.
What was inspirational about Considine’s direction was the simplicity of the storytelling and crafting of the narrative to avoid some of the cliches that he could have used. The first 15 minutes of the film skirts dangerously close to feeling like a strong ITV or BBC nightly tentpole drama series, but its the post-fight story that really escalated the film into the echelons of brilliance. If Considine had used a hospital scene where the doctor had provided more exposition to Whittaker’s character or interspersed the story with additional narrative of how the industry had reacted to Burton’s injury, he would have fulfilled the TV Drama cliches, but potentially could have harmed the quality of the story he was trying to tell here. These missing elements provide a stripped backstory that illuminates Considine and Whittaker as the excellent actors that they are. It was no surprise that in a tiny screening room in central London you could hear the sobbing and deeper intakes of breath from the entire audience as we battled our own feelings with regards to family, healing, friendships, love, forgiveness, passion, career and guilt.
What really won it for me, when finally deciding the star rating is that this film was the perfect contrast to the commercial and franchise heavy menu of films that I have been watching so far in 2018. Please see this film, it will help you appreciate the simplicity of relationships, and take you on a real journey.
“A powerful drama that makes you feel like you have gone 10 rounds with your own emotions.”
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