Journeyman

Where are you, my baby?

Year Released : 2018

Director : Paddy Considine

Cast : Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Paul Popplewell, Anthony Welsh and Tony Pitts

“Journeyman” was a film that I had wanted to see a while, but thought I had missed it at the cinema as it had a limited run and I wasn’t ever near one showing it. I thought it’d appear online at some point, but then I noticed one night that a one-screen cinema in Lincoln was showing it and as I’m back in my hometown for a week before starting my new role, I had no excuses.

It’s been a while since I saw a decent British film (as in made in the UK and has a fully English cast) at the cinema, with two coming close to my bottom ten in 2016 (list here), one of which starred Jodie Whittaker, the lead female in this film.

We’ll see.

Plot

Matty (Considine) is considering retiring from boxing after one more fight to prove that he didn’t win his title by fluke. His wife Emma (Whittaker) is supportive and they have a young daughter, Mia. Matty’s fight against the confident Andre (Welsh) eventually goes his way, but several blows to the head eventually result in him collapsing at home.

Once his wakes from the coma he isn’t able to look after himself. Despite being supportive, Emma starts feeling an emotional toll and this isn’t helped when Matty starts becoming violent towards her. The final straw comes when Matty’s answer to his daughter crying is to stick her in the tumble dryer. Emma leaves Matty, but he doesn’t understand why.

In his confusion he tries to commit suicide, but after only just surviving drowning he decides to work hard to get his life back on track.

So was it worth the wait?

Please note that this review may contain minor spoilers, but nothing that ruins that film I would say.

Let me start off by saying that this film will not be for everyone. It is quite a difficult watch at times because you’re literally watching a character who doesn’t know how to cope, so does stuff such as putting a baby in a tumble dryer and then committing domestic violence. However, for me the film was one of the better British ones I have seen in a while.

Matty and Emma made a decent and believable couple. You don’t see a lot of them before the fight, but her reaction to what happens and how supportive she is shows the strong and seemingly stable relationship that they had beforehand. You appreciate why she wants to stay with him, so it does feel strange that she doesn’t leave until after a few counts of domestic violence and the tumble-dryer instance, and arguably Emma is a better character than Matty because of something like this.

Both Whittaker and Considine own their roles excellently, with the latter doing something very different than what I’ve seen him do before, and most importantly he is believable, something that is generally hard to achieve in films of a similar nature.

Unfortunately there are a few issues with the film towards the end. Firstly, a relatively minor one is that it is hard to get a context of time passing in the film. The journey that Matty goes on throughout the film, going from someone who isn’t able to even go to toilet by himself, right through to his recovery, would be more impactful were some context given to how long it took. This isn’t helped by the fact that the toddler never seems to age. She appears to be pretty much the same age at the end of the film as she was at the beginning.

The second issue is that after Emma does leave Matty at around the half way point, it seems very “rinse and repeat” for a solid twenty or so minutes and only really recovers in the final few scenes. In a 90 minute run time, which is actually very appropriate, that is quite a fair proportion, but fortunately the rest of the film makes up for it.

Summary

Heartfelt and considered, “Journeyman” is a very decent British sports drama that while a little dragging in parts, is still a well told story for the most part and one that deserves a wider audience than it got.

I really like that the character doesn’t stick in the same state throughout the film, gradually getting better, but a concept of how much time has passed would be very useful for context.

Don’t get in expecting a lot of boxing, that section of the film is over within the first ten or so minutes, so if you go in with appropriate expectations then you will more than likely enjoy this.

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