THIS REVIEW IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY KATHY KAISER @matineechat.com
PALMER – Rated R – 1 hr. 50 mins.
DIRECTOR: Fisher Stevens
WRITER: Cheryl Guerriero
STARRING: Justin Timberlake, June Squibb, Juno Temple, Alisha Wainwright, and Ryder Allen
I’ve been absolutely loving Apple TV + films ever since THE BANKER hit on the streaming service right about the time the pandemic reared its ugly head, and I was captivated earlier this year too, when Sophia Coppola’s ON THE ROCKS came streaming in.
And now it seems, they have totally managed to tap into my emotional being full force with their latest release, under the Direction of Fisher Stevens. Stevens manages to bring out a an exceptional performance from Timberlake, which shows there is true acting prowess behind those baby blues, as he plays the past High School Football star, turned ex-con, searching for a little redemption in this life, as he helps the young boy next store overcome his own challenges too in PALMER.
Cheryl Guerriero’s very touching screenplay takes us to a small town in rural Louisiana where we find, Eddie, a.k.a. PALMER (Justin Timberlake), returning from a 12-stint in the pen. Luckily for Palmer, his grandmother Vivian (June Squibb) is more than happy to take him back in, just as she takes in the boy from the trailer next door named Sam (Ryder Allen), every time his Mother Shelly (Juno Temple) wanders off, leaving Vivian to care for him.
As Palmer struggles to overcome the glaring eyes of everyone in town since his return, he realizes that Sam too has his own struggles to contend with, beyond his mother’s abandonment, as he actually prefers “the finer things in life”, like playing with dolls, dressing up, having tea parties, and most importantly, helping Grandma Viv put on her makeup…
When Palmer finally manages to land a job as a Janitor at Sam’s school, it’s not too long before a relationship ensues with Sam’s teacher, Ms. Maggie (Alisha Wainwright), when she sees what a great guy Palmer truly is – even with his past – and how he is not only helping Sam to survive, but thrive, within his care…
As Palmer works tirelessly to change his life, and Sam’s too, they both learn the importance of acceptance, and that Sam is okay being just who he is, although it seems that the cruel realities of this world for them both, just keep creeping back in…
Now, if you love Justin Timberlake as much as I do, of course you are going to be on board with catching this fabulous, heartwarming film. But the way I feel about PALMER, goes way beyond my adoration for its lead, and the steamier scenes this time around too, as this film that touches deep into your soul. Timberlake brings his best performance to date to the screen, in this more mature, and Award worthy role. Temple’s performance is also top notch too, playing the addict who’s torn between her longing for drugs, and the sweet boy that she should be taking care of. June Squibb is also perfectly cast as the Grandmother who takes care of “all the boys in her life” as best she can, making sure that Church on Sunday morning, is always a part of the plan. But I think that as good as Timberlake’s performance is, he’s a little upstaged by the incredible performance of 8-year-old Ryder Allen, as he totally taps into playing this youngster who is constantly bullied for acting like a girl, with a performance that conveys so much personality, and depth, that you just can’t help but fall in love with the kid! PALMER is so good, it’s literally one of those films that’s a Must See, and believe me too when I tell you, there won’t be a dry eye in the house! So, have those kleenexes ready before you sit down to enjoy this fabulous film streaming on AppleTV+ starting tomorrow (1/29).