I’ve been an admirer of Paddy Considine’s work since 2002’s In America and in the sixteen years since he’s played a plethora of impressive parts across the genres and always brought a reality to his characters. It was 2011’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur that pushed his talent further into the public eye with a solid movie that raised questions about first impressions and the places our lives can involuntarily end up. His second directorial outing is Journeyman, the story of Matty Burton, a successful British boxer who’s out to defend his title. While Matty definitely gives everything to stay on top, it’s only when he returns home that his life unravels after he collapses with a brain injury sustained during the fight.
It’s no understatement that Journeyman is a powerful film but this isn’t your standard Boxing movie. While many before have concentrated on the sport and the story of an aging boxer coming back for one redeeming fight of his life, Considine’s film literally focuses in on Matty’s recovery battle for the life he’s trying to recollect. After he initially collapses and goes in for emergency surgery – this isn’t shown but we have to assume it’s to relive a blood clot on his brain – he returns home a shell of the man he was earlier that night. While Matty is physically there, we learn that he’s not only lost his memory but also simple day-to-day functionality in every way you can imagine.
Considine’s performance shift as the recovering Matty is compelling to experience and because the character is set-up early as likeable and dedicated to his wife and young child, we’ll come back to Emma (Jodie Whittaker) shortly, you’re instantly connected to him and his struggle. The journey back to the ‘every day’ means he has to learn to speak, walk, and also bring back memories he’s forgotten but, in the short term, it’ll come at a great personal cost to him and the relationships with people he loves.
As promised, the excellent Jodie Whittaker plays his wife Emma and they also have a young daughter, Mia. While Emma offers herself to nurse Matty back to health, his internal struggle means his behaviour is unpredictable and can be violent when he doesn’t understand something, like young kids do, but as an adult, and it’s rightfully unsettling to watch. Whittaker is exceptional at channelling both a deep love for her husband but also in being strong enough to make a decision that keeps her and their young child safe, and in the film you’ll have to go through what they do to really feel and comprehend a heart-breaking sequence of events.
Equally tough, understanding and subtle, Journeyman packs a punch in the powerful stakes as we feel for Matty and Emma, and their struggle and desire to return to the life they knew before his brain injury. From what I’ve researched, Considine offers a very real insight into the truth of such injuries and does it with deep intelligence. There’s no doubt there are tears and the score helps the emotional score be being beautifully subtle to create a true impact.
Journeyman is beautifully shot by cinematographer Laurie Rose who delves into the characters so you feel their every thought, we also believe in the real-world due to its Sheffield setting. Co-starring roles for Tony Pitts and Paul Popplewell play an important part of the narrative and his recovery and are well worth a mention as well.
Paddy’s film is a true to life Boxing-related story and something I haven’t seen been explored before with such heart and honesty. It also doesn’t bring a negative vibe to the sport and, if anything, his role in the sport aids his recovery as much as anything does. Journeyman is an exceptional story about strength, the very real struggle of re-building your life after a brain injury and it’s hugely, intelligently affecting. There were tears, laughs and, most importantly, real hope as the credits rolled.
Journeyman is out to own on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital download and VOD from 30th July.
Order it now: https://amzn.to/2JNtwUE or try to win a copy here: CPJourneymanComp