Directors: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz
Starring: Shia Labeouf, Dakota Johnson and Zack Gottsagan
Words – Eleanor Smith
It is fair to say that The Peanut Butter Falcon has been one of the most enjoyable, charming and emotional pieces of cinema this year. The film’s reflection on pure kindness, offers an inspiration to us all on how to behave, and also shows us the importance of friendship.
As Zach puts it, “are you a good guy or a bad guy?”
The story focuses on two individuals, both struggling with their lives. Zach (Zack Gottsagan) is a young man with down syndrome who breaks out of care to achieve his dream of becoming awrestler. Tyler (Shia Labeouf), a fisherman Zach befriends after escaping, is a grieving brother who has found himself lost and in a conflict with a pair of lowlife crab fishers.
Their unlikely friendship brings out the best in each other. As Tyler offers Zach the freedomand encouragement to believe that he can stand on his own two feet, without medical supervision. Similarly, Zach gives Tyler a reason to do good and gives back meaning to his life, we follow both of their stories and watch them equally becoming better versions of themselves.
Friendship and relationships is a key theme throughout the film and is explored from many different angles.
We see the brotherly bond form between Zach and Tyler, and the sparks of a romantic relationship between Tyler and Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) – the caretaker who is out looking for runaway Zach. There is a focus on the positive developments of the character arcs, as even Eleanor learns to better herself, as she begins to understand that Zach isn’t dependant on her and can look after himself.
This serves to highlight just how much The Peanut Butter Falcon is a breath of fresh air, as it shines a new light on the topic of down syndrome. We see Zach surviving and thriving in the outside world, without a roof over his head and without being pampered. We also witness him combatting the roughest and most challenging of sports, wrestling. This emphasises to Eleanor and us, the audience, that Zach isn’t weak but a strong bodied and minded person.
The terrific direction from Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz , as well as the moving performances from the cast really bring this beautiful narrative to life.
The Peanut Butter Falcon absolutely needs to be on your ‘next film to watch’ list.