Director: Paddy Considine
Starring: Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Paul Popplewell, Tony Pitts, Anthony Welsh
Boxer Matty Burton (Considine) suffers a serious head injury during a fight. It is about the impact this has on his marriage, his life and and his family.
Boxing movies, for better or worse, follow a certain set blueprint, and it is worth knowing upfront, that Journeyman is not one of those movies. Focusing more on the recovery of a boxer who suffers a devastating injury in the ring, it smartly manages to avoid any unnecessary cliches. Instead, Journeyman is a devastating and emotional character study, with a stand-out performance from Paddy Considine. Undoubtedly an underrated actor, Considine does a tremendous job of holding this all together, and whilst the character is distinctly unlikeable at times, his performance makes it very easy to emotionally engage with his plight.
Perhaps even better than Considine however is Jodie Whittaker’s wonderful performance. You truly feel every thing she is going through, and her love of her husband is palpable throughout, even under strained circumstances. Journeyman is a very difficult watch in places, and not one which would demand repeat watches. It is uncomfortably real and naturalistic and some scenes are incredibly difficult to watch. It is the sort of film which really puts you through the emotional wringer, and this isn’t something which makes for the most enjoyable of experiences.
Despite its powerful characters and emotional themes, Journeyman suffers from being distinctly un-cinematic, more at home as an extended TV drama than it is on the big screen. Whilst you would expect a film with this subject matter to be emotional, it is perhaps too intense in places and the film-making borders on the manipulative. There are far too many close-up shots of the characters, with the music swelling and forcing you to feel something so often that it all becomes a bit too much.
I saw this movie so you don’t have to. It pains me to say this, particularly following Considine’s recent comments online about the reception his films have had, but I didn’t care for Journeyman at all. The performances are fantastic, particularly from Considine and Whittaker, and whilst it may resonate with some, I felt it was a little manipulative in the way it portrayed the more emotional moments of the film. It is a difficult watch as well and whilst from a distance I can appreciate the performances, it was not an experience I would wish to repeat. Worth a watch when it comes onto a streaming service or Sky, and perhaps it will be more at home on the smaller screen than the big screen.