Punch is a risky Canadian drama that explores an emotionally incestuous relationship between a father and daughter. It also introduces us to the world of Topless Female Boxers, but more about that later.
Newcomer Sonya Bennett is the teenaged Ariel, a rebellious young girl being raised by her single parent father (Michael Riley). When he brings home a woman he is dating Ariel feels betrayed and punches the woman in the face, giving her a black eye. Enter the aforementioned Topless Female Boxer (Meredith McGeachie). She is the tough, lesbian sister of the wronged women, and comes to extract an apology from Ariel and her father.
It all sounds very “Jerry Springer,” and to a degree it is – the topless boxing angle is pure titillation – but there is some substance here. Director and screenwriter Guy Bennett introduces many interesting human drama elements to Ariel’s coming-of-age story, but frustratingly fails to fully explore any of them. He hints at things that are daring and unusual, but then backs away from the difficult material. At its core Punch delves into the pain of finding the right emotional distance between yourself and those whom you love, but the message is muddied by too many plot twists. The topless boxing is very, uh… visual and will probably put some bums in the seats but unnecessarily clogs up the story.
Sonya Bennett sizzles as the audacious daughter, while Riley subtly conveys the turmoil the father feels as a respectable man who realizes that his relationship with his daughter is tainted.
This is Guy Bennett’s first film and there are enough indications in this movie of someone who really knows how to direct actors and is willing to take interesting risks as a screenwriter to make lead one to think that while Punch isn’t quite there, it’ll be interesting to see what this guy will do next.