Film review: Journeyman is a gripping, moving and powerful film

Have you seen Journeyman yet? Picture: STUDIOCANAL

Have you seen Journeyman yet? Picture: STUDIOCANAL - Credit: Archant

Boxing films are, as Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980) and Mark Robson’s Champion (1949) have shown, as much about the physical strength and mental fragility of their central characters as they are about the sport itself.

The same is very much the case with Paddy Considine’s latest filmmaking venture – Journeyman.

The film focuses on middleweight boxing champion Matty Burton (Considine), who suffers a serious head injury during a match with rival Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh). As his altered personality alienates those around him, Matty attempts to rebuild his life.

As with his blistering directorial debut Tyrannosaur (2011), Considine treats his film’s subject matter with a sensitive and unflinching eye, never shying away from the injured Matty’s sudden, violent outbursts and the isolation and frustration he feels as he strives to recover from his life-altering injury.

As Matty, Considine is superb, expertly differentiating the two versions of the protagonist we see on screen, playing him in the film’s opening scenes as a confident, likeable ball of energy and then, following his injury, beset by childlike ticks and aggressive explosions.


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Jodie Whittaker is equally brilliant as Matty’s conflicted wife Emma, but is sadly sidelined for much of the film’s second half.

For all its strengths, however, Journeyman descends into rather heavy-handed and predictable storytelling its latter stages and the film’s pro-boxing stance may be unsettling for some.

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Nevertheless, it is a gripping, moving and powerful film that further consolidates Considine as one of Britain’s finest talents.

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