Review: Journeyman


Title:  Journeyman
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Paddy Considine
Starring: Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker
Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

What It Is: Paddy Considine directs and stars in boxing melodrama Journeyman, his follow-up to his first debut with the also-grim Tyrannosaur. He’s Matty Burton, wanting to consolidate his world middleweight title in one last fight before he retires to spend time with his wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and baby.

What We Think: Predictably, in any film where any job is being done for one last time, it all goes wrong. What was meant to be a magnificent end to a career instead ends in Matty receiving a serious blow to the head from his young challenger (Anthony Welsh), who had previously goaded him with a life-changing match? The brain damage Matty suffers are indeed life-changing. Returning home from hospital to his clinically colorless modern home, he’s reduced to a childlike state, incapable to talk in sentences, unable to remember his family or himself from his life before the fight, and physically uncoordinated and impaired.

This film charts Matty’s long fight back. We see his rehabilitation exercises, his memory lapses and his frustration as awareness dawns of what has happened to him. Emma is sympathetic and supportive but his injury has caused a personality change and he’s subject to sudden outbursts of violent temper that he can’t control that put unbearable pressure on their marriage.

It’s evidently a well-researched film made with the best of intentions but Considine, though he is a wonderful actor, cannot help but not look right for the part. He’s unimpressive as a world-class boxer, not young or fit enough, his face not smashed about enough. Although his disabled plight that occupies the film is moving and the little everyday details of his fight are realistic, again it doesn’t seem quite right, it endeavors to be naturalistic but doesn’t quite thrive.

Our Grade: C, It’s a somewhat flawed film but its heart is in the right place, it was thoughtful and tender but the focus on Considine really overshadowed Whittaker’s performance. Her character could have been used more fully so that we saw more of the effect of becoming Matty’s carer has on her but she fades into the background as the film drifts into the healing influence of the revived camaraderie of Matty’s boxing associates.

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