It started about 20 minutes into the film. It then reoccurred every 10 minutes or so for the remainder of the duration. I've not cried like that at a film for I don't know how long. Like an emotional dementor Paddy Considine's second picture as a director takes so much, and give it back in equal measure.
I could say it was a like a punch to the face. A knockout of a film. It took me the full 12 rounds. It had me up against the ropes and... I could say these things. But they'd be naff -especially when describing this bruiser of a film.
It follows Matty Burton, an ageing boxer who knows his times spent and is ready to take his last steps into the ring before hanging up the gloves. But fate has another idea. Sounds familiar right? That's what I thought. Benefitting from having not seen the trailer, which I'd strongly advise avoiding if possible, I was of course shocked at the tale that followed.
Matty revives an injury which alters the course of his life. The film is really about how it affects not just him but those around him, namely his two friends and most of all his devoted wife, portrayed by Doctor Who's Jodie Whitaker, in a career best role. It's a boxing film but more than that it's a film about those we love and who care for us. It's about identity in some ways, fight in others, but love in every way.
Set mainly in the family home of Matty, his wife and their baby daughter Mia, the film is, for the most part, a domestic tale about a man recovering from a traumatic injury and a family recovering from the fallout of it.
When I say domestic I mean in the sense that the action is all contained within the confines of the house; not the ring. As a director Considine creates tension from the most ordinary of sights and sounds, a crying baby, the call of a name. He also crafts more than a couple of shocking moments, also within the house. These really shock. They're sudden, viscous and yet they create no feelings of anger, only anguish and desperation for our two leads.
Considine proved himself as a more than competent director with Tyrannosaur, and also a capable writer with Shane Meadows' Dead Mans Shoes. Here he goes beyond that. The original score is used when necessary and removed entirely at just the right moments, a certain phone call scene is one of the films standouts. It never tips into the melodramatic or pandering which I was very worried it would.
However above all this directorial talent which produces and almost insist on such incredible emotional response, it's the acting of Considine and Whitaker which truly blew me away. Considine is utterly convincing, scarily so at times. Whitaker more than matches him too in what is a very different but no less enthralling portrayal. Being a small British film (small only in the sense of it not getting a wide release) I don't expect any awards to come raining down. But I also don't think I'll see another pair on screen this year who put as dynamic and heartfelt a performance as these two. Absolutely stellar.
Yes it is a knockout. It did hit me with an emotional guy punch. And yet it's so much more than the cliches thrown its way would have you believe. See it.
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