Jawbone

It’s closeness and empathetic style feels somewhat theatrical

Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris), is back living on the streets. His alcoholism is getting worse and he desperately needs help. He is met with harsh words when he returns to the Union Street Boxing Club, where he was a young title holder. Will (Ray Winstone) and Eddie (Michael Smiley) will support him if he follows their rules, but for Jimmy, that means no unlicensed boxing, and that’s the only one way he can make money.

At times, Jawbone feels strangely like a silent film. Johnny Harris puts in an incredibly bruising performance and this reliance upon physicality means that there is room for a very visual experience to be created. It’s closeness and empathetic style feels somewhat theatrical, but this flows into the boxing moments as well and broadly works well. Jawbone has very little to dislike.

This fight is beautiful. It’s raw and holds a huge sense of tainted reality with a dramatic brutality flowing through every punch. In fact, Johnny Harris’ performance makes these scenes, and Michael Smiley’s intrinsically underplayed coach compared with Ray Winstone’s reigned in and calm demeanor, knocks Harris’ Jimmy into the places he needs to be.

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Jawbone overly relies on it’s setting and themes to pull it through at times where it begins to meander from the plot, but with an excellently experimental Paul Weller score, the film has enough substance to appear both foreboding and deeply relatable. A huge part is about pulling through hard times and director Napper shows this off with Harris’script very nicely.

It doesn’t have the capacity to command huge recognition but what Jawbone manages to do better than many films of the same ilk, is take a core centralised character and show exactly how the people that mean most to him change his movements and actions. It’s a group performance focusing on making both Harris and his character Jimmy the best they can be. It’s truly mesmerising.

4/5

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