What starts out akin to 'I, Daniel Blake' quickly turns into a British version of 'Rocky' as protagonist Jimmy (Johnny Harris) has nowhere to go other than his childhood boxing gym. When he is not working out, or squatting there at night without anyone knowing, he is drowning his sorrows in the next bottle of booze. Trying to turn his life around he gets his promoter friend to arrange a fight for him against a younger, more powerful opponent. This fight might cost Jimmy his life, but it is his only chance to regain control of it. Boxing films seem to all follow the same formula. The downtrodden hero, who has lost everything or everyone or both, must overcome his own self through the discipline of working out to achieve greatness in a showdown fight, on which the film ends. 'Jawbone' is no different, but adds a welcome touch of reality with its gritty protagonist Jimmy McCabe’s constant fight for survival on the streets of London.
Harris perfectly brings this on the edge living to life in his portrayal of Jimmy. At absolute rock bottom he keeps on fighting. He keeps on being, and him being is being unrelenting. He stumbles, a lot, but as long as he gets up one more time than life knocks him down he can keep going. And he is persistent. It is harrowing and beautiful to behold. A compelling performance that by itself is already worth watching. Add to that the powerhouse that is Ray Winstone as gym owner Bill and you have a must see film on your hands. Every single scene with these two is pure gold.
Overall 'Jawbone' was more than just a boxing film for me. Yes, there is a lot of working out and it ends with your typical boxing match, but there is more to this film. Jimmy is fighting his opponent as much as he is fighting himself in that ring, throughout the entire film actually. His constant battle with alcohol, his issues with asking for help or even accepting help. We all need help, no matter if we’re trying to overcome outer or inner demons. The physical tale is just its outer layer, with a human story at its core. And that makes 'Jawbone' and Jimmy McCabe relatable to everyone.
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