An ex-footballer Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) has just been released from a 12 years prison sentence and has moved in with his grandmother Vivian (June Squibb). A family of a drug addict mother – Shelly (Juno Temple) and abusive boyfriend and a sensitive son Sam (Ryder Allen) living in a trailer, attracts his attention. He is made to face a crises of masculinity in the form of Sam being bullied for obsessing fairies, dolls and dresses.
Palmer ends up taking care of him most of the time, is how the story unfolds. This family melodrama is a Justin Timberlake return feature film since 2017.
At first Palmer is put off by the child. Sam’s unique compulsion for liking girly things. But later on becomes his greatest defender and supporter as he starts to feel the parenting instinct within.
The film begins with making the audience familiar with the characters and becoming a part of the town – a typical Fisher Stevens direction. An actor com director, managing the project, because its greatest tenacity lies in its character and the silent moments between the leading cast. It experiences the clear milestones of an actor’s view with so much stress given to the body language. As actions speak louder than the dialogues.
Palmer’s progression in the story is turning him into a more mature man – how he learns to deal with situations which are not in his favor. Keeping violence aside, which had landed him in prison. And all this had become possible as his heart accepted and opened up for Sam. Seeing his childhood reflecting in him, like dealing with a younger version of himself.
Undoubtedly, the scenes between Timberlake and Allen are the most touching and moving. Allen makes his debut and portrays and ingenious stature of a child actor. He and Timberlake build their exhilarating bond, believably with Allen’s innocence and dexterity, being the charm of the scenes.
The story line of taking gender non compliance of a child and turning it into a strategy to make Palmer amend and re access his beliefs. Reevaluating his approach towards acting as a man and playing the part as a protector. Sam made Paler let his guards down.
Eventually, the sullen character showed his soft corner for Sam. Calm with him and lashing out violently at those who bullied Sam. This touched the audience’s hearts and showed unexpected ways people find solace in relationships and bonds. How they help themselves to heal and meditate back to normal living.
Palmer, as a movie had focused on the state of foster care in US. It has highlighted the issues of bullying faced by Sam and Palmer’s answer to it.
Though Palmer is not the first to portray special relationships, turning ex-cons or broken people into lovable, caring, healed humans. But that doesn’t mean it still isn’t an exclusive. A take of how nurturing and unconditional love can change lives.