Cert 15 92mins Stars 4
Go fifteen rounds with this deft British drama which lands a flurry of hard-hitting emotional punches.
Paddy Considine directs himself as journeyman boxer, Matty Burton. With doubts over the legitimacy of his late career title win, the ageing middleweight world champion takes a bout against a young pretender in order to prove his doubters wrong.
Anthony Welsh as his opponent Andre ‘The Future’ Bryte has sadly too little screen time, but makes a lasting impression as the brash challenger.
As a result of their fight, Matty suffers brain damage and struggles to adjust to memory loss and impaired mobility.
Considine’s versatility has been proved in thrillers, drama, satire and Shakespeare. And this portrait of broken masculinity is his finest work yet, jabbing away at our senses until we’re punch drunk at Matty’s anguish and pain.
And he has to be on top form as in his opposite corner playing his wife is Jodie Whittaker, now best known as TV’s first female Doctor Who.
As Emma she’s very much in love and full of intent to stand by her man, yet struggles with his outbursts of rage and his treatment of their baby daughter.
Whittaker is breathtakingly good as she subtly underplays her pivotal role. Where lesser actresses would let fly with an emotional haymaker, she pulls her punches with devastating effect.
Having made his directorial debut with 2011’s ferocious social drama Tyrannosaur which starred Olivia Colman, Considine again commands his corner and goes through his paces with great economy.
And working also as scriptwriter, he gives minor characters depth by spreading the pain and sympathy. Everyone connected to the life-changing fight is altered by it and all must work towards a new balance in their lives.
Boxing is never condemned as Considine is fascinated by his subject. And as an example of his talent and commitment to filmmaking, his film is a knockout