“Palmer” Shines Spotlight on Two Outsiders

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“Palmer” will be released on Apple TV+ Jan. 29, and it’s a sweet Valentine of a film that shines a spotlight on two outsiders in a small Louisiana town. Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) is a recently released convicted felon who spent 12 years in the state penitentiary.

A former high school football hero, the crime Palmer committed at age 18 is never specified. From vague hints we gather it probably involved a drug-related burglary. The former high school quarterback had started abusing drugs when his father died.

After returning to live with Vivian, the grandmother who raised him (June Squibb), Palmer finds a position as assistant janitor at a local elementary school. He has a brief encounter with hard-living neighbor Shelly (Juno Temple), before she disappears on a months-long bender. Shelly leaves her 7-year-old son Sam (Ryder Allen) with Vivian, and Palmer reluctantly ends up taking care of the precocious boy.

Palmer and Sam

As a janitor, Palmer’s able to keep an eye on Sam at school, which is a good thing. The gender-fluid boy (who loves tea parties, playing dress-up, and princess shows instead of sports) is constantly bullied. The two outsiders find an unexpected connection, and Palmer starts to worry about Sam’s future with his unstable mother. Temple has an over-the-top turn as Shelly, a former high school belle who’s addicted to drugs and brings home bad boyfriends.

Sam’s understanding teacher Maggie (Alisha Wainwright) is also fond of the unique little boy, and she soon develops feelings for his caretaker as well. While “Palmer” may not plow any new ground, Timberlake and his young protégé are extremely charismatic and endearing. In fact, Sam is almost too sweet to be true; he loves everybody and it’s hard not to love him back. The strong bond that grows between Sam and Palmer is entirely believable, and you’ll be rooting for the two of them (and Maggie makes three) to find their happy ending.

“Palmer” is a dramatic film directed by Fisher Stevens, with a script by Cheryl Guerriero, The run time is one hour 51 minutes, and “Palmer” streams on Apple TV starting Jan. 29. Production by Rhea Films, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, SK Global, and Hercules Film Fund.

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