12th October 2017 9.00pm at Picturehouse Central
13th October 2017 3.15pm at empire
14th October 2017 8.00pm at Ciné Lumière
The start of Journeyman makes one think actor-writer-director Paddy Considine has made a northern Rocky. Is this where the film is steering us? Is Considine the British Sylvester Stallone? But he doesn’t allow the audience such simplicities. After winning his last fight before retirement, Matty (Considine) returns home – battered and bloody – to his wife, Emma (Jodie Whittaker), and their baby daughter Mia. Matty is suddenly struck with an intense headache and falls into a coma – only to wake up with memory loss and an altered personality. He’s not the man he was and tries his hardest to remember everything, bit by bit.
There are moments of genuine emotional torture in the film, which makes the viewer’s skin tremble – briefly reminding them of Considine’s dark and superior debut Tyrannosaur. But Journeyman is mostly filled with sentimental clichés that’d feel awkward in a Hollywood romcom. It’s a testament to Considine’s skill at writing and directing strong drama that he’s not able to do happiness. It’s not in his nature to feign equilibrium, and he’s terrible at pretending. And when things are thrown into tears and chaos, it doesn’t take much to order them together again. The story fixes itself too easily and too forcefully.
Considine is passable as Matty, adopting a mentally ill persona that he barely gets away with. It’s always a risky role to play, and he deserves praise for pulling it off, but a different actor might’ve brought a better flavour to the character. In many scenes, the viewer is drawn more to Whittaker’s performance, particularly during her beautiful, stunted silences.
Journeyman is a strained and sentimental boxer story that never reaches its ambitions. There are some well-crafted scenes, which are worth crying over, but they belong to a much stronger movie. It’s not awful, but it’s not terribly good either. It feels like a wide step down from Tyrannosaur. One will easy forget it.
Journeyman is released nationwide on 16th February 2018.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.