LFF 2019: The Peanut Butter Falcon

The potentially mawkish premise of this odd-couple road movie is overcome by an authentic sense of place and the compelling bond formed onscreen between leads Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf

Film Review by Thomas Atkinson | 04 Oct 2019
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon
Film title: The Peanut Butter Falcon
Director: Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
Starring: Zack Gottsagen, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson
Release date: 18 Oct

A man with Down’s syndrome (Gottsagen), recently escaped from his care home, bonds with a lawless ex-fisherman (LaBeouf) so he can attend the wrestling school of his dreams? Our Indie-Trash Senses are tingling! Truth be told, however, The Peanut Butter Falcon is better than it has any right to be, the potential mawkishness of its premise offset by its acuity for local detail.

When we say this movie is set in North Carolina, we mean in North Carolina. The swampy backwaters, dilapidated wooden houses and an abundance of rust establish mood well enough, but there’s also side-characters, like a blind holy man, who strike a tone of recognition in the viewer; these feel like living, breathing people.

The film is not bountiful with ideas outside of the bond between Zak, the wrestling wannabe, and Tyler, the ex-fisherman; LaBeouf and Gottsagen fill in most of those spaces themselves. But directors Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson know how to spin a yarn, and this is a surprisingly good one.

The Peanut Butter Falcon has its UK premiere at BFI London Film Festival and will be released by Signature Entertainment on 18 October