FILM4 (2018)

 

Director: Paddy Considine

 

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

Am I the boxer or the bag?

 

Directed by and starring Paddy Considine, Journeyman follows middleweight champion Matty Burton (Considine) as he suffers a devastating head injury in his final match that changes his life and the life of his wife Emma (Whittaker). Retiring a champion, the able fighter now has to adapt to a much different life as Emma and their young daughter struggle to get to grips with their new, unexpected lifestyle.

Whereas most boxing movies tell the tale of redemption, victory against all odds or the plucky underdog falling at the final hurdle, Journeyman is something slightly different. Following in the same vein as 2017’s marvellous Jawbone, the boxing takes a back seat here for the drama of the character’s emotional journey – and it’s a real heavy journey for Matty Burton and his wife. Matty is portrayed as the ‘good guy’, a man grateful for what he has, for his family and for his friendships which makes the ensuing hardship even tougher. Considine is excellent in both guises of Matty and Whittaker is the heart of the movie, not merely a supporting wife as he sees the toll taken on her also.

 

There’s no need for urgency here, it’s a slow burner that demands you absorb everything that’s happening on screen – from the empty feeling, echoing house to the screams of the families daughter to every painful moment of Matty alone with his torment – you can’t escape to happier times. There are moments of slight levity with the boxing team and the ending, whilst slightly predictable, is still welcome and allows the movie to end on a slightly more positive note (an ending that includes another face-to-face with the fighter that delivered the crushing blow).

 

If like me, you’re a fan of boxing movies, you should be able to appreciate the rawness of Journeyman. It’s no frills and direct, but don’t be expecting a Rocky or Raging Bull. Instead, Journeyman delivers a heavy look at the man behind the gloves damaged by his craft, and whilst not perfect, it’s still compelling.

December 1st 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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