Former American football star Palmer (Justin Timberlake) has just been released from a 12-year stint in prison. It’s a shock, then, when he ends up having to care for a bullied young boy (Ryder Allen) in this modest family drama. Allen is a little cutesy as Sam, who is obsessed with fairies, dolls and dresses. Still, the film’s treatment of a gender-nonconforming character is clear-eyed. Timberlake can certainly act (see his turn in The Social Network), but the role of hardened, monosyllabic Palmer isn’t a neat fit. The showy singer turned actor struggles to modulate his natural charisma, a flirtatious, extroverted energy repeatedly leaking out where it should be muffled.
Simran Hans is a film critic for the Observer and a culture writer whose work has appeared in, among others, BuzzFeed, Dazed, the FADER and Sight & Sound.