This year, Paddy Considine returns to the writer and director's chair to helm his sophomore feature: Journeyman. The film received its world premiere at this year's London Film Festival, where I got to see it.
The premise follows Considine’s Matty, a skilled boxer currently holding onto a World Champion title - having won it following the recent passing of his father, a boxing legend before him. With this title in his hands, his wife Emma (Jodie Whitaker) that he adores, and a beautiful daughter, Mia, things look good for Matty. However, after a fight leaves his life changed forever, he finds himself in a new fight: this time, for his life. Now, on paper, Journeyman seems like quite the formulaic boxing drama and whilst the film does occasionally hit conventional beats, it’s very different from most of its genre counterparts.
This isn't really a boxing film, but rather a character study. It would be silly to go in expecting something along the lines of Creed and Southpaw, given that the boxing takes a backseat here. Journeyman puts Matty and his life and his struggle front and centre and it’s riveting. The characters here are nuanced and well-realised, it's easy to invest in the story and to care about what's going on. Paddy Considine is astounding in the lead role; it’s such a subdued yet emotionally raw performance and so believable too. He is matched blow-for-blow by Jodie Whitaker, as his wife Emma, who perhaps steals the show here - her role is more emotionally demanding here and Whitaker is excellent. The pair is brilliant together too and their performances anchor such solid writing to create for some sincere, heartfelt viewing.
This film is a journey - as the title suggest. Considine proves himself as a competent and promising filmmaker; there is nothing jaw-dropping about the craftsmanship of what we’re watching but it's solid enough. This is by no means a flawless film, though. Its biggest flaw comes in its pretty poor pacing. Journeyman feels quite choppy and all over the place throughout and, with a small runtime of only 82 minutes, it can drag quite a bit. The screenplay perhaps isn't as lean and sharp as it could be and it gets a little too convoluted and messy for its own good in the middle act. The ending also feels quite abrupt and there are lots of questions left unanswered; also, those expecting a full-on boxing film will be disappointed to find the action light - and the one scene of action there is to be way too frenetic and poorly shot. Regardless, this film is still pretty great. This is a sobering character study and a touching look at how a man’s life has been completely changed by it. And it's full of sincerity and heart and Paddy Considine's passion and talent really make this what it is.
JOURNEYMAN OPENS IN THE UK ON FEBRUARY 16TH, 2018.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.