Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Plot: Eddie Palmer is released from prison on parole after serving 12 years. He returns to his hometown and tries to put his life back together again. He soon forms a bond with a unique little boy named Sam who comes from a troubled home. It was digitally released on January 29 on Apple TV+.

Review: Palmer is a strange but gentle drama with tones of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921). The main character in this case is Palmer (Justin Timberlake of Southland Tales, The Social Network), a gruff ex-convict in the early stages of trying to figure out how to reset his life and become a normal member of society again. This can prove to be extremely difficult when no one wants to give an ex-con a second chance.

Palmer also reluctantly finds himself in the role of a father figure to a little boy who by no means is your typical child. This one loves princesses, plays with dolls and loves to play tea party. The topic of gender identification is a hot one at the moment and the film does a particularly good job of highlighting it in a positive way without making it the front and centre topic. Another refreshing element of the plot is the fact that Palmer chooses to protect rather than ridicule the misunderstood boy.

However, Timberlake’s performance is almost too poker-faced and stiff which distances the character a bit from the audience. But it can be argued that the character is just being extremely guarded due to his past transgressions and experiences. The character of Palmer seemed like it promised to be a bit more dimensional, and somehow I don’t think that Timberlake had the full dexterity in order to get it to its true potential.

The film itself can seem dark, especially in the scenes where Palmer arrives at his grandmother Vivian’s (June Squibb) house, but when Sam (Ryder Allen) shows up he infuses the atmosphere with colours and an extremely cute flamboyance in the innocence of youth.

Juno Temple as Sam’s mother Shelly is the most messed-up character of the film. While it is made abundantly clear how much she loves her son, her struggles with drug addiction and an abusive boyfriend engender an extremely toxic environment that was definitely not conducive to raising such an impressionable and emotional child. Her performance was perfectly realistic in her denial of her situation until she is forced to recognise the gravity of what she was putting Sam through.

The film is all about redemption, sacrifice and acceptance. It warms your heart one minute and breaks it the next. While the pacing slows towards the climax of the film the ending result is slightly worth the lengthy runtime of almost two hours. In a society currently full of darkness and hatred at the moment it’s your little ray of light.

Alice’s Score: 7 out of 10

For my review of inspirational drama Penguin Bloom you can click here.

39AFB96D-4DEF-4DED-8DFE-3400E758CE9B Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.