Director Welby Ings describes Punch as “two connected love stories; one between a father and his son, and the other between two young men.” The New Zealand film is still festival hopping, but the trailer immediately puts it on the map as one to watch out for.
Here’s the official synopsis: “Jim (Jordan Oosterhof) is a promising teenage boxer, training under the watch of his demanding and alcoholic father (Tim Roth). When Jim develops a relationship with a male classmate (Conan Hayes), the two are forced to navigate isolation, homophobia, and the brutality of small-town life. As Jim discovers what it means to be gay, he realizes how little strength has to do with heroism.”
From the intimate cinematography and indie aesthetic to Roth’s subtle mastery, the film looks remarkable, sitting well within the lineage of other romances like Moonlight where identity starts to crumble in the face of something the main character really wants. Is it boxing? Maybe. But there’s definitely more to life, even if your dad says there isn’t. Then again, there’s no way that Roth’s alcoholic father character will be an obstacle in his son’s romantic life, right?
The debut feature from Ings, Punch played the New Zealand Film Festival but doesn’t have a firm release date in the US yet. Hopefully, it will soon.