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The Yorker at LIFF 31: Journeyman

Paddy Considine is one of Britain’s finest actors. His performances in Dead Man’s Shoes, In America and Submarine were remarkable and his direction of 2011’s Tyrannosaur, (for which he won a BAFTAhelped make Olivia Colman a star. In Journeyman he is both director and lead actor and he is a marvel at both. 

Journeyman tells the story of Matty Burton, the reigning middleweight boxing champion of the world. After his latest bout, Matty collapses and is faced with a tortuous road to recovery.

It is a classic sports underdog tale, told extremely well. Burton is put in an dark and terrible place after his brain injury and his recovery is arduous and intense. The way in which Considine conveys the nuances of a brain injury, (which is much more difficult to do on screen than is a physical one) is very clever. He gives the character a rounded and realistic life before the accident so that his transformation is incredibly upsetting. He is required to play a role of diverse physical and emotional range and he plays it perfectly.

The standout however is Jodie Whittaker. The new Dr Who gives a searingly brilliant performance as Matty’s wife Emma and is the emotional backbone of the entire film. The way in which Whittaker conveys subtle emotional is masterful and she has to single handedly carry most of the second act. 

Sadly, the plot structure of the film lets it down a little. The first two acts are brilliant, conveying incredible character development. However, once a crucial character has less screentime and secondary characters come to the fore, the focus and the dramatic weight of the first two acts are lost somewhat. This is unexpected and disappointing.

Overall, Journeyman is a fine second feature from Paddy Considine. It doesn’t reach the emotional heights of Tyrannosaur but it is still an excellent film about adversity and humanity. It is also a sensitive explanation of mental illness which deserves to be seen. Jodie Whittaker and Considine give superb performances and some scenes are incredibly moving.

Next up in our coverage of LIFF 31- Good Time, Dark River and Bad Genius.

Journeyman is screening as part of LIFF 31. Tickets can be bought from LeedsFilmCity.com. Image source: ThePlaylist.net