Journeyman review: Paddy Considine follows up his superb directorial debut Tyrannosaur, with this drama based around a boxer who suffers a serious head injury during a fight.

Journeyman review by Awais Irfan.

Journeyman review
Journeyman review

Actors often like to step into the director’s chair every so often to really prove their talents and Paddy Considine is doing exactly that once again for his second feature, Journeyman.

Matty (Considine) is quite the skilled fighter in the ring, currently holding onto a World Champion title. However, his priority, first and foremost, is his wife Emma (Jodie Whitaker) and his newborn daughter, Mia. After a fight leaves his life changed forever, Matty must muster whatever strength he can find and fight to win back everything he loves. On the surface, Journeyman follows the standard genre formula – boxer at the top of their game is left without cause and has to fight for it back – and whilst this film does occasionally hit those beats, it’s fairly different from most of its genre counterparts.

Journeyman review
Journeyman review

This isn’t a boxing film, but rather a character study as we follow Matty’s struggle – his brain damage leaves him speech-impaired, with serious memory loss, and struggling to do simple tasks. It’s poignant stuff to watch. Paddy Considine gives a stellar performance in the lead role; it’s so subdued yet emotionally explosive and we really do empathise with him and everything he is going through. He is matched blow-for-blow by an equally as astounding Jodie Whitaker, as his wife Emma, who perhaps has the more difficult task of conveying a loving wife’s struggle in coping with the loss of her husband – having to care for him by feeding him, taking him to the toilet, changing him etc. The pair are brilliant together and their performances anchor such solid writing to create for some compelling, emotional viewing.

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Journeyman is, as the title fittingly suggests, a journey. And it’s gripping, sobering viewing. The direction and writing from Considine is competent and promises great things to come from him in future, as a filmmaker. This is by no means a flawless film though, and the pacing can feel a little choppy at times; this feels due to a screenplay that, as strong as it is, is not quite as lean and sharp as it could be with some convoluted storytelling in the middle act. For a film that is as short as this one is (clocking in just over 80 minutes), it drags quite a bit and feels a lot longer than it is. Regardless, Journeyman is emotional, astute and compelling: a journey worth taking.

Journeyman review by Awais Irfan, October 2017.

Journeyman will be released in UK cinemas on February 16th, 2018.