Directed by: Welby Ings
Distributed by: Dark Star Pictures

Written by Taylor Baker


Starring Jordan Oosterhof as a high schooler and aspiring boxer named Jim, “Punch” is built around his youthful exuberance and interiority that bring to screen the life of a pained young man. Torn between who he is and who he’s expected to be. This coming-of-age narrative element and character archetype is something we’ve seen thousands of times before. But the alternating tenderness and rawness of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and the eventual sweetness of lovers’ entangled arms on the beach side give way to more than the trappings of the teenage coming-of-age film we typically find. Sure, Tim Roth’s Stan is suffering from a health condition that consequently hinders his productivity at work and causes him to lose his job. Jim’s friend and lover Whetu–played convincingly by Conan Hayes–is raped and beaten at the most inopportune time, and Whetu and Jim just happen to have a seaside shack just for them. It seems all too convenient. But it’s conceived in a measured enough way to go with it.

Buoyed by an excellent location and a compelling ensemble of working-class men and women, “Punch’s” presentation of pent-up male aggression and insecurity and how they act out on others and themselves has a permeability that elevates it past the sum of parts. Though the film never quite excels or exceeds, neither does it notably lull nor dip down. Crisp occasionally stylized cinematography exudes a welcome cohesion. “Punch” is a promising first feature from Welby Ings and an understated drama on male grief and intimacy.

“Punch” Trailer

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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