Paddy Considine’s first film ‘Tyrannosaur’ was not only a great debut as a director but it was also a stunning piece of film. Released in 2011 to a shower of praise from critics, it proved that Considine was a true talent in front of and behind the camera. It has taken nearly 8 years for his second film ‘Journeyman’ to reach the screen. So how does it fair up to his stunning debut? Directors second films are notoriously difficult to get right.
Paddy Considine this time writes, directs and stars in this gritty boxing drama. Considine plays Matty Burton; a veteran middleweight boxing champion who in a championship fight suffers a serious head injury which affects not only him, but those closest to him. Jodie Whittaker plays Matty’s loving wife and rock Emma. This isn’t your average boxing flick, this is no Rocky 4 or 5. The fighting in ‘Journeyman’ is not done inside the ring but outside of it. This isn’t an underdog tale or redemption story, which is truly refreshing. This is a story about going to the darkest place physically and mentally and then the journey back to recovery.
The gift that Paddy has as director is that you can feel his passion for filmmaking and the subject of boxing. You can tell that he has a love for the sport and the boxing community. The injury that Matty endures is never laid at the feet of the sport. Rightly or wrongly his injury is just paved over as a terrible event. As a director who is still reasonably new to his craft; Paddy Considine has kept this a pretty simple looking picture. It feels unfair to compare ‘Journeyman’ to his first film ‘Tyrannosaur’ but every director gets compared to his last piece of work. It’s clear that he is a very talented director whose future work will be interesting to watch. But this could easily have been made for TV, like a really good ITV drama which would win loads of awards. It’s a shame that it just doesn’t feel very cinematic because the performances all round are outstanding and the script is nearly flawless.
Strong casting is the selling point to ‘Journeyman’. Both Paddy Considine and Jodie Whittaker put in stellar performances. Great chemistry goes a long way and both these leads carry the film. Paddy Considine has seriously been underrated on these shores and in Hollywood for far too long, he should have been given a role like this year ago. Maybe that’s why he wrote the part for himself. Considine is believable as an aging boxer and he does a descent job playing a character with serious head injuries. In the wrong hands it could have gone very wrong.
Jodie Whittaker’s stock continues to rise. Here she carries the film. As Matty’s wife Emma, she plays the role with so much heart, the viewer feels exactly what you should be feeling. Her life has been turned upside down and it’s down to her performance that grounds the whole film. The tears and sadness seem so real, my tears definitely were. For ‘Doctor Who’ fans it’s very exciting to see such a great actress about to play such an important and iconic TV character.
‘Journeyman’ gives a punch right to your gut. A film that will take you to the darkest areas of your mind but leaves you with hope and love. Considine and Whittaker’s strong performances are reminders that we have some great talent in British cinema. Hopefully it doesn’t take another 8 years to get Paddy Considine behind a camera again. That would be a shame.
Dave’s Rating: 7.0/10
Directed by: Paddy Considine
Starring: Paddy Considine, Jodie Whittaker, Anthony Welsh, Paul Popplewell