Luke McWilliams gives us his review of the sentimental story, The Peanut Butter Falcon, about a young man with Down syndrome starring Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson and Shia LaBeouf.
Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, lives in a retirement home in North Carolina. His long suffering social worker, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), is under pressure to keep him put. One night, dreaming of attending the wrestling school of his hero, the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), Zak escapes and stows away on a small fishing boat owned by wayward fisherman, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf).
Based around Gottsagen’s dream of becoming an actor, the movie is a modern retelling of the Huckleberry Finn story. Loving his VHS wrestling tapes, Zak has an eye-line on attending a wrestling school to become a wrestler like his hero. Conversely, LaBeouf has in recent times shunned his ‘star’, choosing to reinvent himself through independent cinema. LaBeouf’s Tyler lives an assumingly carefree life free of social constraints, living off of the land and travelling the swamps of Georgia as he likes. We see clues that he may be haunted by something causing him to drift through life. Eleanor serves as a mediator; a voice of reason and social normality that is not immune to being swayed with the ideals that Tyler preaches, and the resounding effect they have on Zak.
Set against a bluegrass, folk and spiritual soundtrack, the atmosphere is rich, selling the natural beauty that Tyler treasures so much, and which Zak is learning how to experience.
Verdict: An affecting, if not slightly overly sentimental, experience. Fans of bluegrass and moonshine will appreciate it.
The Peanut Butter Falcon – 3.5 stars