Paddy Considine’s first movie, Tyrannosaur, was a very tough movie to watch, a brutal story of a woman spending years in a violent relationship. It turned its lead, Olivia Colman, into a star and announced Considine as one of the most talented British directors of the decade. It’s been a seven-year wait for a follow-up, but Journeyman, if not a match for Tyrannosaur, shows Considine is no one-hit-wonder.
Like Tyrannosaur, this is far from cheery. Considine plays Matty Burton, a very successful boxer who’s about to retire, following one last bout to cement his reputation. After his final fight, still fizzing with the adrenaline of victory, Matty collapses and blacks out. When he comes back round after an emergency brain operation, Matty has lost most of his memory and the majority of his motor skills. The once agile showman is now a frightened dependent whose confusion quickly tips into a violent temper. His wife, Emma (Jodie Whittaker), has to take care of him and try to help him back to the man he used to be, while also looking after their new daughter.
It’s another take on the familiar boxing movie trope of the hero’s greatest fight being one outside the ring, but Considine is not a maudlin, sugary Hollywood director. His boxing scenes are hard and efficient. He doesn’t indulge himself as an actor and overplay his illness, or push the emotional buttons any harder than he needs to. He’s a sympathetic director who, as a writer, has a natural ear for dialogue and a strong sense of people. The relationship between Matty and Emma is entirely believable, both of them suddenly in a relationship with a person who looks familiar but is essentially a stranger. The frustration, affection and fear radiates from both of them. Its their fight to fall in love again, more than Matty’s to regain his former self, that is the movie’s true heart.
Considine in all round great filmmaker, as actor, writer and director, so let’s hope we don’t have to wait quite so long for his next movie.
Release Date: 30 March, 2018