Justin Timberlake gives the strongest performance of his acting career in Palmer. He plays an ex con who bonds with a transgender child after returning to his rural Louisiana home. Palmer has a very predictable narrative but is very dramatic and concise. The film confronts several difficult issues with a thoughtful, sensitive approach. Palmer Doesn’t offer many twists or turns, but leaves a solid impression. Your message of salvation and understanding is certainly from the heart.
Eddie Palmer ((Justin Timberlake) is released after twelve years in federal prison. He returns to live with his grandmother Vivian (June Squibb) in the small town of his youth in Louisiana. Vivian rents a trailer on her land to Shelly (Juno Temple), a promiscuous drug addict who never does well. Shelly has a young son, Sam (Ryder Allen), who wants to become a princess. Vivian is taking care of Sam when Shelly disappears with various men on their drug-powered benders.
Palmer struggles to adapt to home life. He can’t get a job because of his criminal record. The locals remember him as a soccer star who threw everything away. Life gets more complicated when Palmer finds Sam under his care. Shelly cannot be found. Sam is constantly bullied for acting like a girl. Palmer asks Sam about his decisions and then realizes that the child is just himself. Palmer knows what life would be like for the boy in foster care. His efforts to protect Sam create huge problems in their small town.
Justin Timberlake portrayed Palmer with nuance and sophistication. The character’s backstory is revealed when he spends time with the boy. Palmer doesn’t understand why Sam is female. But he can clearly see that Shelly is a train wreck and is unable to take care of such a sensitive child. Despite his own sad situation, he realizes that the situation cannot be ignored. Timberlake and Ryder Allen, who plays Sam, have a lovable, tangible chemistry together. Palmer‘s character grows as he becomes more responsible for Sam’s well-being. His violent side is also unleashed when Sam is threatened.
Palmer effectively uses key one-dimensional supportive signs. Director Fisher Stevens (The Bay, Before the flood) spent decades as a well-known character actor. His experience is clearly evident in the performance of Juno Temple as Shelly. Her character could easily have been dismissed as a queued drugstore. Stevens gives Temple the space to concretize Shelly’s arc beyond the scripted words. The result leads to a confrontation that will bring many to tears. A lesser actress and director wouldn’t have been as effective.
The topic of how to raise a transgender child plays a central role in the story. This is a hot button issue that can affect how the audience sees the movie. Palmer makes his attitude known. The outcome of the film is never in doubt. It can be criticized as formulaic. But his account of Sam’s treatment in school and society is unfortunately accurate. I think everyone can agree that violence and bullying against these people, especially against children, cannot be accepted. Palmer is a production by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Hercules Film Fund and Rhea Films. It will be available exclusively on Apple TV + starting January 29th.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or position of News Gob.