Magazine article Screen International

'Journeyman': London Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Journeyman': London Review

Article excerpt

Paddy Considine follows up 2011’s ’Tyrannosaur’ with this story of a boxer who is felled in the ring

Dir/scr: Paddy Considine. UK. 2017. 92mins

With this story of a champion boxer trying to rebuild his life after serious head injury, actor-turned-filmmaker Paddy Considine returns to the territory of rage and redemption previously explored in his 2011 directorial debut Tyrannosaur. While Journeyman follows a more traditional narrative of overcoming adversity, Considine’s strong central performance gives the film an emotional resonance.

While Journeyman is more a performance piece than fully rounded drama, it works in the context of this particular story

Following its London Film Festival premiere, StudioCanal will release Journeyman in the UK in February 2018, where it could repeat the modest success of Tyrannosaur; particularly as a UK awards campaign will help generate interest. Similarities to other recent boxing films, including 2016 Miles Teller vehicle Bleed For This and fellow UK picture Jawbone (2017) could, however, limit an already niche audience, and a lack of star power may hinder overseas prospects.

A lifelong boxing fan, writer/director Considine takes the lead of pugilist Matty Burton, who we meet in training to defend his world championship title; an award he won by default, when his previous opponent withdrew due to injury. Opening scenes paint a portrait of contentment; a focused and hard-working sportsman, Matty is also dedicated to his loving wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and baby daughter.

A pre-match press conference hints at the drama to come. Matty is determined to prove himself not only worthy of the title he holds, but also remain relevant as he approaches retirement. His opponent Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh), who goes by the rather on-the-nose nickname of The Future, taunts him with smack talk that will echo throughout the film. “I’m going to take your head off,” he snarls. “This is a life-changer for you.”

He’s right. Head injuries sustained in the bout are severe enough to require brain surgery, and reduce Matty’s cognitive function to a childlike level. …

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