In Journeyman, Paddy Considine delivers a heart-breaking performance in this thought-provoking and illuminating account of life coping with a debilitating sporting injury.

Paddy Considine’s second feature film, Journeyman, places him in the spotlight as Writer-Director and lead Actor in this gripping story about aging professional boxer, Matty Burton. Closing in on retirement, we see our main protagonist undertaking one last fight in order to provide financial security for his loving wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker) and baby daughter. A decision which leads him on a dangerous journey resulting in truly life-changing consequences.

Paying homage to many a stereotypical sporting story, the film starts with our older, more experienced boxer preparing to defend his title of World Number One against the new kid on the block, Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh). Obnoxious Bryte is the perfect opponent for ensuring the viewer is whole-heartedly routing for our unpretentious titular character during the match. The brutal fight scene between the two literally packs punches and concludes with our bruised and battered protagonist being named the triumphant victor. Celebrations are short-lived, as after collapsing with delayed symptoms from head trauma, Matty awakens from a coma with life-changing injuries, setting him on a long, gruelling journey to recovery.

The rest of the film’s plotline is simple, and succeeds in hitting home the unimaginable impact that a debilitating injury can have on a person’s life, and on their loved ones. The production feels relatively low budget compared to other major blockbusters currently on the scene. This adds to the charm and understated nature of the narrative, allowing the focus to remain on the development of the main characters.

The major appeal of the movie is the captivating performances given by the main cast. The star of the show is Whittaker, who gives a heart-breaking and compelling performance as Matty’s devoted wife. She valiantly depicts the unyielding pressure of being a full-time carer; perfectly illustrating the angst of wanting to stay with the man she loves, and having to put the safety of her family first. Similarly, Considine gives a convincing portrayal; this time of someone who is suffering from severe physical and mental impairment. His movement and speech are carefully refined, suggesting knowledge of real case studies. Persuasively communicating the concept of impaired cognitive functioning with bursts of clarity and frustration at his inability to perform simple tasks, the viewer is left reeling from the emotional turmoil of the character.

Ultimately Journeyman delivers a powerful story of a man doing his best to regain the pieces of his former self after a traumatic incident. Using his love for his family as a driving force in his fight to recovery, it portrays the struggles and frustrations in a thought-provoking way. Aside from highlighting the monumental impact that this kind of injury can have on a person’s life and on those they love, it also provides a gritty insight into the world of professional boxing. Although not explicitly based on a true story, the film almost carries an underlying warning of the potential dangers of contact sports, reminiscent of recent news stories. With many tear-jerking moments, it gives a moving insight into living with a debilitating injury, and an optimistic take on the importance of self-determination on the road to recovery.

★★★★☆

Journeyman will be released on 30th March 2018.