Saturday, 16 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Paddy Considine in Journeyman

Paddy Considine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Matty Burton in Journeyman.

Journeyman is a strong sophomore effort from Considine about a champion boxer suffering from a traumatic brain injury.

Paddy Considine is an actor who I feel I've probably often mentioned my affection for here, but somehow I never found myself actually reviewing one of his performances. Well thankfully I have the opportunity to do so here, in a performance entirely realized by Considine. This is as the film is his directorial followup from his impressive debut in Tyrannosaur, in addition to writing the script this he did not defer the leading responsibilities to another, and instead plays the lead role himself this time around. The lanky Considine is a one of a kind character actor how has this very idiosyncratic presence that he brings to his roles. A variety of roles mind you as Considine is an actor who while you will instantly identify him in a given role he has a great deal of range in terms of the types of roles he plays and the tone needed for them. It is then just a pleasure to see another leading turn by him again here, in playing really one of the actor's old favorite, that being the bruiser boxer. Although this film, by being set in the modern day, avoids any of the typical tropes of such a part,  and we are given a fairly different perspective in the life of a champion level boxer. Of course this is right in the opening of the film itself which begins with his Matty Burton already on the top of the world, despite the death of his father, as the champion of his boxing league, and happily married with a new child.

Considine simply has the chance to deliver a charismatic turn here as we see him in his press conference for his first title defense against the brash Andre Bryte (Anthony Welsh). Considine though is charismatic in his own cleverly wily sort of way that just adds a little bit of a different spice to the seemingly well worn part, that is wonderful to see here. It is a a basic enough scene in conception as the challenger tries to provoke Matty and makes a show by putting down even the death of his father as this way of playing the extreme heel. Considine is terrific in the scene though in portraying a man who is not phased by the brash words of his opponent but rather a man just on a certain cloud 9. His reactions though to the words are great as in his eyes he creates the right sense of the grief associated with his father but he is able convey this in a way that shows it entirely attached to remembering his love for his father rather than any anger towards his opponent. We continue to see this man who just seems happy in his life in his moments at home with his wife Emma (Jodie Whittaker), and his child. Considine and Whittaker are wonderful together just striking such an unassuming yet wholly believable chemistry with each other. Their early scenes are not big moments of romanticism, but still rather so potent in just creating this sense of deep rooted affection between the two people.

This is essentially the seed planted though of the great guy that Matty is initially where the world seems to be his oyster. Now Considine, the director and the actor, doesn't over do this mind you making just a very unassuming happy life that feels so authentic in its quiet state. Now normally this where the champion boxer would lose then have to pick himself up after losing, but that's not the case as he wins the fight. This shown in a relatively brief sequence where Considine reveals essentially a reasoned technical fighter, with a enough ferocity in there, but more than anything conveys the wears of the punches even as he ends up triumphing. His little moment afterwards of sharing this with his wife, is brilliantly performed by Considine because he underplays it so much. It is just with the resounding personally internalized yes, as he shows it more of something he wants to share with her than glory in his own success at any point. This sense of accomplishment is short lived though as the full brunt of the injuries of the fight hit him afterwards and he suffers a serious brain injury. This leaves a full shift in the narrative and most importantly in Considine's performance that goes from the quietly confident boxer to the near amnesiac just struggling to function normally as a person. I'll admit at hearing about this revelation in the film I had my concerns as this could lead to some rather bad and obvious acting, but then again I should've remembered the part was being played by Paddy Considine.

Considine's performance is completely devoted to this task of creating this man in a state of brokenness mentally and how that corresponds to his physical state. This in his muted way of speaking and his constantly guarded and gradual method of moving. Considine's brings nearly a child's timidness, not in a overt gimmicky way, but rather in a illustration of the man's stunted place mentally. Considine finds this natural detachment of confusion along with this physically awkward, stilted and repetitive movements of a man whose various parts of his body are essentially not within the same wavelength of each other. Considine manages to make this feel wholly natural and importantly avoids a lot of the broad posturing that can come with a performance like this. Considine rather is able to create the sense of a lived ailment, even if it is new for the man. The thing is though this is a Paddy Considine film not a standard tearjerker so this does not stop there. This is, as was the case of his previous film, it does not shy away from the darkest elements of such an injury. This is as Considine portrays the stunted emotional connection of the man, this to then translates to Matty no longer being able to interact properly with others. This is as he suddenly has violent outbursts against his wife. Considine is frankly terrifying in these moments because he manages to show these moments as coming from that disconnect and as these random violent outbursts of his brain simply not working correctly anymore. This is in extreme violent reactions to any conflict that are this sharp and rather disturbing outbursts as they are more akin to the tantrum of an infant mind, than of a vile man. 

This dangerous behavior causes Emma to leave him leaving Matty to be treated by others. In the slowly growing recovery of his memories Considine's work grants all the more of the emotional impact in creating the sense of depression that initially breaks the man to near suicide. His survival leads towards an attempt at a continued recovery as he begins to gain back his mental abilities. Considine's is fantastic as he never skips a step making still every movement such a painful difficult act. A man still constricted seemingly within his own body and his mind only slowly finding any sense of maturity. This even in Considine's limited delivery that he gradually expands, but never feels as though he rushes this sense. He finds this state of limited recovery only, with the most notable growth being in the emotional understanding of his condition. Considine is quite heartbreaking in his moments of realizing his losses, as he illustrates in just the slightest shake of the voice, and just such a potent somberness in the man. The one more direct outburst when there is an event to trigger the fight, where Considine captures the visceral intensity of the man's writhing in his pains within both the mental and the physical. Even as the film moves towards more familiar territory, Considine manages to bring a real power to it, in part due to the unflinching earlier moments he depicted as director, but also because of his performance.

Considine even in his moments of speaking in his slurred speech he manages to make feel honest, which is quite the achievement in itself. He goes far further than just the surface mannerisms of it though as he also manages to be so heartbreaking in depicting the man's quiet way of trying to reach back to his memories and his wife. One scene in particular Considine is amazing in is when he calls Emma to come to home to him, who is reluctant for obvious reasons. Considine is astonishing in able to convey the devastation in the man. Considine manages to show the man struggling to keep it together emotionally, but also even physically continue the conversation in such a moment that resonates powerfully. I also though want to mention a different, less familiar, scene that also has its own striking power to it when his former opponent comes to actually see him to apologize for his current circumstances and his former behavior. It's a subdued moment yet Considine's subtle portrayal of Matty slowly coming to realize who the man is, while also sharing moments of his past with a former opponent, manages to deliver such a genuine poignancy. Considine never shows the man suddenly fixed by a single act but rather shows the full struggle of the man here. This is a great performance as he never falls into excessive showy mannerisms, instead just quietly finds the truth of the man's journey. This is in every detail both the hopeful moments of humanity, but also within the dark struggles within. His physical work is of course mannered technically speaking, however Considine's performance avoids ever becoming about the performance, keeping within creating the sense of the character and his journey. This is opposed to just the focus on, look at my way of speaking, that some similar performances fall into . It is remarkable work that is an expression of Considine's considerable talent, however this is always within realizing every minor and major moment of Matty's struggle, in such striking detail.

24 comments:

Bryan L. said...

I reckon Luke will be quite glad about this :D

Louis: Your ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast?

Oh and do you see the following actors being good fits for James Deans film roles, in 2010s versions?

Cal Trask- Will Poulter
Jim Stark- Blake Jenner
Jett Rink- Alden Ehrenreich

Charles H said...

Can't wait to see this.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I'm really glad he has his first 5. I loved him in Dead Man's Shoes, and I found him to be pretty damn good in Hot Fuzz, The World's End and Peaky Blinders.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: So, this is basically Southpaw done right, then?

Bryan L. said...

Matt: Pretty much, and that thought came to my mind as well while reading this review.

Anonymous said...

Louis, what's your rating on Winston Duke for Black Panther?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Would Lee J. Cobb be your choice for Paddy Considine’s role in a 50s Journeyman? If not, who would it be?

Luke Higham said...

Fantastic performance from Considine and it feels great to see one half of the Andes get a five. :)

Can't wait for his reviews for A Room For Romeo Brass and Dead Man's Shoes (It has to be another five for him and would love it if he made the top 5 for 2004 Lead).

Luke Higham said...

You left out Paul Rudd in Mute from the Supporting Overall.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Past and Present film roles for Dave Bautista.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Dante Ferreti, Jack Fisk, Ken Adam and John Box as production designers.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on American Animals & ratings and thoughts on the cast.

Calvin Law said...

Gosh, REALLY need to check this out.

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Whittaker - 4.5(This wasn't some major surprise for me, even with my less than enthusiastic response for her debut performance, as I found her more than reliable in Attack the Block. Any who though she is actually quite terrific here in the well worn role of the supportive wife. And she excels in the initial scenes in finding that right combination with the loving warmth and the distant concern over her husband's chosen life. She has that splendid chemistry with Considine, and the two just find the history so wonderfully between the two. She's is great once the break happens though in initially playing the part as fully the supportive wife, and doing so in a moving fashion of portraying the concern and need to help her husband. When his recovery goes as it does though, Whittaker is terrific in portraying such a convincing horror at the state and fear at what happens to her. She importantly doesn't overplay these moments conveying the understanding of his state, though while making the fear still so very real. She's the match to Considine in the phone call scene finding just the right tone in her delivery between the hesitation involved with that fear, while also still managing to conveyed the still real though compromised love for him)

Welsh - 3.5(Minor performance within the film but he's pretty good as the heel, then is actually pretty genuinely moving his later reactions of just the honest guy who wants to see his former opponent be okay. Quietly reserved and moving work from him.)

Poulter I can certainly see as Cal, as he has the right off beat intensity that could bring the right style to the part, though it would be very different from Dean.

I've liked Jenner so far, but I don't think he has the right off-beat energy needed for the role. He seems to standard in his "cool" where Jim needs to be charismatic, but "weird".

I also like Ehrenreich, but I don't think he currently has the needed venomous rogue swagger needed for Jett. I'll admit all three of these roles would be hard to be pick up though.

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

Yeah, pretty much, thankfully with no strangely hand waved murder subplot.

Anonymous:

Trevor Howard.

Luke:

Rudd is really co-lead in Mute.

Bautista:

Past:

Mongo (Blazing Saddles)
Max Millan (Scarecrow, Theoretically could be the real test role for him)
Fatso Judson

Present:

Every role played by Vin Diesel.
Jack Horne (Magnificent seven remake
Hulk Hogan if they ever make that Hogan/Gawker movie.

American Animals is one where I sadly thought it was a lot of potential wasted. The thing is there are no obvious flaws in this. As the structure is there, the characters are there for the most part (they could've better expanded on the other two heist crew), the idea of making it a partial documentary all could've added up to a masterpiece. The problem is the execution just ends up not really quite working. A few of the creative transitions are more clunky than inspired, the final interactions just could've had more meat to them since the ideas were there, and the whole idea of their need for something more could've been better realized. I actually did like the film by the way, it is just frustrating when something with so much ambition just doesn't come together.

Peters - 4(He is the best part of the film, and I actually think they should've done just a bit more with his character. In that Peters is very good in terms of portraying the vicious need in his character to find some sort of meaning with his life. His scene of quitting the sports teams in particular is some great acting by Peters as he exudes this sense of confused anguish of a man who thinks he's wasted his life up until this point. He then does show this builds into an unhealthy intensity as the man becomes all the more adamant in performing the robbery and having this profound experience. Again the material should've let him go further with this, but he's good with what he has.)

Keoghan - 3(Well where Venom shed some potential doubts on Tom Hardy's accent in The Drop, this performance sheds some doubts on his accent in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. As evidently that wasn't to sound weird, that's just what he thinks Americans sounds like I guess. I won't be too mean because it isn't too distracting, and his performance is good in portraying the discontentment though making it less potent than Peters. He's effective though in showing the hesitations from there on to doing the job. It's fine work though he's perhaps a touch too overshadowed by Peters.)

Abrahamson - (Doesn't much of an impression however his part is underwritten.)

Kier - (Nice bit of strangeness from him as usual, as sort of exemplifying a man from a different world.)

Jenner - (His part is also underwritten however he absolutely delivers in his big moment where he shows such a genuine heartbreak within the frustration of finding out he hasn't exactly been working with criminal geniuses.)

Calvin Law said...

Funny, I thought Keoghan was pretty great and found Peters pretty underwhelming.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I'll start with the first two.

Ferretti's work does speak for itself, given the range and depth of his design work. This is in such downright fantastic, with the right touches of style, in his amazing work for Scorsese that are these period recreations that put most to shame. His Gangs of New York designs are some of the greatest of all time, Silence and Age of Innocence are both equally stunning. Even his lesser work in that regard like Hugo, Aviator and Casino are still certainly impressive. His range though goes beyond that in his brilliant takes of different fantasies whether that be the wondrous designs of Baron Manchausen, or the horrifying ones of Bram Stoker's Dracula. He even perhaps realized some of the most vivid designs for a Burton film in Sweeney Todd, and it is just interesting to see such a talented designer meet up with a filmmaker who already demands a specific type of design. His work is elaborate, detailed, expressive, intimate, realistic, or fantastical. There is nothing he can't do it seems, and the larger the ambition it seems the better in the final result.

Mr. Sissy Spacek isn't one of the most prolific designers, but he is without a doubt one of the best. He is perhaps also notable for being one of the great on location production designers, as it is probably not a coincidence that every film he works on have such memorable looking outdoor settings. Of course his, set sets, are also awe inspiring whether it be the beautiful madness of a Phantom in the Paradise, the specific monstrous glory of that Oil derrick in There Will Be Blood, or that haunting home of Days of Heaven, his work stands out in every instance. Fisk films don't typically look quite like other films, in the best of ways, as they have this either large, or small twist of reality that creates such fascinating designs.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your costume and production design top tens for 2018?

Matt Mustin said...

In regards to Paddy Considine, let me just say on a personal note: Aspie actors represent!

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Costume:

Nominees:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Favourite
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
The Sisters Brothers
Suspiria

Rest of the Top Ten:

6. Mary Queen of Scots
7. The Outlaw King
8. Mary Poppins Returns
9. Cold War
10. At Eternity's Gate

Production Design:

Nominees:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
The Favourite
First Man
Mandy
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Rest of the top Ten:

6. Isle of Dogs
7. Sorry to Bother You
8. Stan & Ollie
9. Mission Impossible: Fallout
10. Roma

Bryan L. said...

Louis: I'm glad you liked Whitaker, and I like to think of it as the performance McAdams could've given if her character in Southpaw if it weren't for her early exit.

And I did have to dig a bit deep for actors in the right age group for those roles. How about Reynor as Jim Stark or Jett Rink instead?

Bryan L. said...

Also, Bautista as Fatso Judson is too perfect.

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Can't see him either. I'd honestly probably go older for Rink given the part is older for much of the film and didn't necessarily have to be early 20's in his early scenes.

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