Second feature, following the acclaimed and powerful Tyrannosaur, there were many bets hedged with this Paddy Considine film. Written and directed as well as starring him, there is much of Considine thrown into this movie, one that he began writing before we saw Peter Mullan and Olivia Coleman emerge in his debut feature, following the short, Dog Altogether. Clearly a personal project, which involves the producer of Tyrannosaur, Diarmid Scrimshaw, and actors Jodie Whittaker, who was in Attack the Block, and about to star in Doctor Who, as well as Paul Popplewell, who has been in ’71 and Shameless, this is more than a boxing film, there is tenderness, psyche and emotion within this Considine feature.
Paddy himself plays protagonist in this feature, Matty Burton, a boxer with the end of his career in sight, a well-rounded and fun-loving guy who is committed to his supporting wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and baby daughter, Mia. In the lead up and preparation to defend his title as boxer, which is disputable due to the circumstances surrounding the last fight, his challenger, the prodding, taunting Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh), spouts threats in a manner to increase the suspense around and intensity of the actual fight. The fight itself is a highly difficult watch but Matty does it again, despite taking some horrendous blows to the head. After making it home, with the promise of a celebratory cuppa, he collapses on the table, which is when the actual fight begins.
That’s when the film ups its game. Considine and Whittaker really get comfortable in the skin of their characters and develop them outstandingly, evoking the pain and agony and worry and concern. After a brain operation and several attempts to motivate him to want to revive himself, to come back a stronger man, Emma discovers that the only way she can entice him to fight the changes is to leave with her child, as she soon realises that he is a danger to himself, her and Mia. The scenes that see him rebuild his friendships with his training team, who abandoned ship after the fight, performed by Tony Pitts and Paul Popplewell, are moving and those trying to encourage his wife to come home are highly emotive. The acting is certainly fierce in this feature, despite some of the Hollywood elements and glorified elements to this classic boxing film. Whittaker and Considine flesh out Matty and Emma, showcasing their talent as actors, no doubt making Doctor Who fans relieved in their casting.
Journeyman is out on general release from 30th March 2018.