"passionate, engaging, and memorable for the path the narrative takes and what us as an audience experience"
Paddy Considine writes, directs, and stars in a low-key, low-budget boxing drama that, on first inspection, packages itself as something very different to what it actually is.
In truth, there’s barely a punch thrown, other than when world champion boxer Matty Burton (Considine) takes on a younger, cockier challenger Andre Bright (Anthony Welsh) during a title bout that is a catalyst for a challenging, emotive, and devastating story.
Despite this appearing as a boxing movie, it’s more of a drama -- much how aspects of Rocky and Million Dollar Baby are. This quintessentially British sporting drama merely uses the physical sport as a backdrop to a much deeper plot that sees Matty suffer a life-changing brain injury.
With a typical title fight set-up and a subsequent injury, the way Considine tells the story and doesn’t conform to done-to-death tropes is refreshing and beautifully told.
As usual, Considine offers a strong performance, only this time it flutters between a humble, accomplished fighter and brain-damaged survivor. At times it’s heartbreaking, especially when we see how his family -- Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and their baby girl Mia -- deal with the post-match struggle, as well as sad and horrifying moments that follow.
Journeyman is a change to the often brutish and testosterone-fueled films that’ve come and gone over the years, and that’s down to Considine’s approach to the entire project. Having directed the superb Tyrannosaur in 2011, it’s hard to prioritise whether he’s better in front or behind the camera.
The story itself will have you cheering, gasping, and close to tears, notably during some of the genuinely heart-wrenching scenes that Considine executes so well both in relation to his acting ability and directing himself from a behind-the-camera point of view.
Journeyman is compact (just shy of 90 minutes excluding end credits), passionate, engaging, and memorable for the path the narrative takes and what us as an audience experience. The boxing footage itself is competent but, as we’ve seen before, rarely executed in a realistic manner. Its approach is composed and, in the context of the story, the action itself is somewhat inconsequential in an otherwise powerful and thought-provoking film.