Jawbone

"Very Good"

Jawbone Review


Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the ring, but there's also some real emotional depth in the script by actor Johnny Harris and the direction by Thomas Napper (who was second unit director on Beauty and the Beast). So even if the film's plot feels somewhat contrived, the movie has strong resonance in its characters and situations. And it's shot and acted in a remarkably realistic way.

Harris stars as a has-been boxer named Jimmy, who has been evicted from his flat because his building is due to be demolished. With nowhere to go, he turns to his old gym, assuring his former trainer Bill (Ray Winstone) that he has stopped drinking and participating in unlicensed fights. But as Bill's pal Eddie (Michael Smiley) begins to coach him back into shape, Jimmy secretly turns to local gangster Joe (Ian McShane) for help to make some extra cash in an underground boxing match against a notoriously ferocious opponent (Luke J.I. Smith). Then it turns out that Bill and Eddie are hiding something from Jimmy as well. And that they know all about his upcoming fight.

Napper directs the film almost like a documentary, never indulging in melodramatic flourishes as these tough men carefully guard their emotions. He also avoids all rah-rah sports movie cliches. There are no soaring training montages, and the fight scenes are shot without any slow-motion dramatics or rousing music. They feel fiercely true to life, and very painful too. Harris is terrific in the raw central role, a likeable guy whose fiery temper continually gets him in trouble. He may cause his own problems, but he genuinely wants to be a better man. His scenes with Winstone and McShane are terrific, but it's his more prickly connection with Smiley's Eddie that gives the film its soul. Smiley provides Eddie with a wonderful inner life that connects with the audience in surprising ways.

All of this is so sharply assembled that we don't mind too much when the story takes some rather corny turns. Even then, the film feels fresh and honest, and it explores big issues like alcoholism without ever sensationalising things. Through the entire story, Jimmy feels hopelessly out of his depth, a loser who is certain to lose this climactic fight. So it's impossible not to root for this scrappy underdog. And since we so vividly identify with his inner struggle, the movie is able to surprise us with where it goes and inspire us with its underlying themes.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 21 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 17th May 2017

Production compaines: Revolution Films, Emu Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Thomas Napper

Starring: as Jimmy McCabe, as Joe Padgett, as William Carney, as Eddie, Luke J.I. Smith as Damian, Anna Wilson-Hall as Mary

Also starring:

Contactmusic


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