Paddy Considine (director)
30 March 2018 (released)
28 March 2018
The word that crept creeping in to this writer’s mind while watching Journeyman was worthy. It sets out to tell a story, with no pretension or flag waving, of man who at a point when he should be at his most content is cruelly struck down.
Middleweight world champion boxer Matty Burton (Paddy Considine) is defending his belt against a cocky younger fighter Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh) after which, he’ll retire. It’s a bruising (well-choreographed) encounter which Matty wins.
At home, looking forward to retirement he collapses and is rushed to hospital. Returning home from the hospital, with the scars of an operation clearly on his head, he is almost without speech, memory and little co-ordination. This places a massive strain on his wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) as she struggles with him and their baby daughter, Mia: he is now to all intents and purposes another child. She's also exasperated that Matty’s friends and trainers from the gym and boxing look to have abandoned him.
Slowly through patience, care and love, he starts to relearn the basics of everyday life such as making a cup of tea, and actually managing to have sex. These however also lead to frustrations, and out of character, out of the blue violent outbursts that bewilder and shock Emma. One incident goes too far and she is off taking Mia with her.
Matty, somehow comprehending the situation, loses it and the film now takes a bit of a strange turn as his friends decide this is the right time to get involved with his rehabilitation. They take turns with him at the house and going back to the gym he gets involved with the activities and very slowly returns to some sort of a conventional life.
Which is all very well but there’s a slightly distasteful element to this as it appears to virtually dismiss Emma’s earlier efforts and its only when he’s back with the lads, gloves on and in the ring, that he starts to truly recover. It jars for a couple of reasons: it puts Emma in a poor and undeserved light; everyone has their limits, and she was most certainly at it. There’s also the highly contentious issue of showing boxing as rehabilitative therapy, bearing in mind what has gone before!
There is a predictably about the storyline that lingers throughout the film, though that’s countered by Considine’s and Whittaker’s excellent performances, however she is missed in the latter part of the film. This is Considine’s second film as director/writer and it is a sincere, steady, unflashy affair which suits the characters and story, it just ultimately that doesn’t really quite engage the way it could do.