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Journeyman - DVD Review

Journeyman

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PADDY Considine’s second film as director is a heartfelt boxing movie that shies away from genre convention. You could almost call it an anti-boxing movie, albeit one that retains a deep respect for the sport.

A cautionary tale about the injury risks inherent in the sport, this opens with the type of boxing ring drama that would end most films and focuses on the repercussions of getting injured in the sport.

As such, it’s a different kind of triumph against the odds tale, as Considine’s world middleweight boxing champion Matty Burton successfully [but painfully] defends his title against arrogant, trash-talking challenger Andre ‘The Future’ Bryte (Anthony Welsh), only to collapse at home from a head injury afterwards and be faced with an even bigger fight on his hands to get back to some form of mental and physical normality.

The exact nature of Burton’s injury is never fully detailed. But we know that it impairs his mind, his speech, his strength and his whole sense of being. It poses potentially disastrous repercussions for his family: wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and very young daughter Mia.

Indeed, the middle section of the film, as Burton finds himself at odds with himself, rate among the most powerful the drama has to offer, as his family slowly disintegrates around him, along with his own self-esteem.

It’s here that Considine excels as both actor and director, selflessly allowing co-star Whittaker plenty of moments to shine. The film is very much a two-hander during these moments, as Matty’s struggles are juxtaposed with Emma’s. She wants to do the best she can for him, only to face rebuke (both verbal and sometimes physical).

Indeed, as Matty’s decline worsens, so too does even his relationship with his daughter, culminating in an almost unbearably tense situation that proves a tipping point for the family as a whole.

Thereafter, the film focuses more on Matty’s rebuilding, together with the help of his friends, and former training team (played by Tony Pitts and Paul Popplewell), as he puts the pieces of his life back together.

If some of this can be melodramatic, then Considine’s film earns the right to be for the authenticity the director has sough to create along the way. This feels real, both in terms of the physical environment he creates and the emotional journey he takes his characters on.

Admittedly, the film itself could have been a little more probing in its analysis of the dangers of boxing and, perhaps, the lack of support offered to those unlucky enough to suffer severe traumatic injury.

But this is very much a personal journey, which places performance above the action for most of the time. It’s devoid of the showboating of the Rocky films at their most blockbuster leaning, and more evocative of the social drama of Considine’s own Tyrannosaurus.

As such, the performances are what you take away from it the most. Considine, himself, is typically towering: likeable yet fallible, sympathetic and yet sometimes ugly, yet always persevering. Whittaker, meanwhile, wears her heart on her sleeve, imbuing her Emma with an undying devotion that makes some of her decisions all the more painful to arrive at.

Journeyman is therefore a deeply affecting, and frequently moving, piece of filmmaking that knocks you out emotionally rather than landing too many fist-pumping heroics.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 92mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: July 30, 2018