Palmer is about second chances. It’s about reaping that second chance and not repeating the mistakes of the past. The choice, thus made will define our future and correct our past.
The film follows its protagonist, Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) who returns from prison to stay with his grandmother Vivian. Palmer was a yesteryear football hero of the town but now lives with a diminished persona of being an ex-convict. At his grandmother’s house, Palmer meets a young boy, Sam, who lives with his drug-addicted mother in a house trailer parked in the vicinity.
Palmer tries hard to secure a job in the town and luckily he coins one as a janitor in the school. The same school Sam studies in. He discovers something unusual about Sam, which isn’t unusual for the lot but for the bullies and the town. Sam likes to dress up like a girl, he likes to wear makeup and likes fairy princess tales. For the most part, Palmer who has been a part of toxic masculinity and violence fails to understand Sam, but after the sudden demise of his grandmother and Sam’s mother absent, Palmer becomes Sam’s temporary and accidental guardian.
The film tries to further explore Palmer’s and Sam’s relationship. Sam’s aura and vibe help Palmer become a better man, but when a similar event arises in front of Palmer, where he could either act violently and screw again or be sensible and make things right the correct way, Palmer’s choice will decide his and Sam’s fate.
The film doesn’t promise anything new. It is the same old narrative with fresh new faces. The only peculiar layer in the whole premise is Sam’s identity. Sam’s own struggle with defined manhood. When Palmer takes Sam to a shopping mall to buy him clothes for Halloween, Sam picks up a fairy dress. Palmer with a sigh explains to Sam, “some costumes are made for girls, and some are made for boys. Now you can wear it but kids are mean. Especially when they see something that they ain’t used to seeing. They just expect to see a girl wearing this costume.” Sam innocently replies, “They should make one for boys.”
The second half of the narrative deals with Sam’s identity and how he deals with the bullies. Though Palmer acts as a shadow and guardian to Sam, sometimes even Palmer fails to understand the crisis. It is Sam’s teacher Maggie Hayes (Alisha Wainwright) who beautifully portrays the writer’s voice. She is the heart and soul of the film spreading magic in the shadow.
Justin Timberlake as a rusty Palmer has played the part to his and the script’s potential as there wasn’t much to do in it. But Sam has very adorably and beautifully portrayed his part. He is the only one in the entire film who generates a subtle emotion and attachment for a character. I think it’s a film about Sam and dedicated to all the people out there, who are struggling with similar causes.
Palmer has a cliche ending, but yet it is sweet. There aren’t many layers attached to the entire narrative. However, anyone who would be able to relate to Sam’s struggle and character would find this film heart whelming. Other than that, it’s just another tale that would be easily forgotten.
Palmer is streaming on Apple TV+
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