More noise than signal


Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

Palmer sees the sainted Justin Timberlake, who died for our sins and brought sexy back, play Eddie Palmer, returning to his small home town after a length stint behind bars for what is revealed, eventually, to be a serious assault and theft rap. He moves back in with his grandmother, June Squibb’s Vivian, and tries to get his life in some sort of order in a town still wary of him, eventually becoming a janitor at the high school at which he was once the star footballman.

Intruding on his homelife on occasion is the neighbour’s kid, Ryder Allen’s Sam a gender non-conforming lad in an area not known for welcoming such things, although Palmer is supportive. He is occasionally looked after by Vivian, during the stretches where his drug addled mother, Juno Temple’s Shelly, heads off into the unknown for what is presumed to be weeks of druggery. This status quo comes to an abrupt end when, whilst she’s off on one of these excursions, Vivian dies, leaving Sam, by default, in Eddie’s custody, at a time when he’s already dealing with the stress of loss.

Ultimately Eddie feels he cannot face putting Sam into the government care system and agrees to look after him until his mother resurfaces, aided on occasion by Sam’s teacher, Alisha Wainwright’s Maggie, who Eddie soon falls for. Eddie and Sam also form a solid bond over the course of things, to the point that Eddie will want to outright remove Sam from his family when Shelly and her abusive boyfriend eventually return still using, in yet another example of why they should have been deemed unfit parents many years before Eddie got out of jail.

This leads to an ending that for a moment convinced me it was going to take a darker turn before settling back into a more crowd-pleasing family ending, which I perhaps should have expected given the familiarity of all of the elements of it to that point. If you have been to as many rodeos as we have, there’s no part of Palmer that’s not been seen before, if perhaps not in exactly this configuration.

So Palmer is not going to win any awards for originality, or indeed any awards at all, really, unless there’s an award for “Most Adequate Motion Picture”. Which is perhaps a bit more dismissive than I mean it to be, after all I don’t think there’s anything of much significance I disliked about Palmer, and a lot that’s somewhere between perfectly solid and good. Eddie, Sam and to a degree Maggie are fairly well fleshed out, believable characters, and well enough acted by all concerned. By virtue of needing to be absent for most of the film I suppose Juno Temple is a little hard done by, but she certainly is giving it her all.

I don’t think there’s a lot to Palmer other than a fairly well put together, enjoyable flick to spend one hundred of your Earth minutes with, but maybe that’s all that it needs to be. Fine / Ten.