Justin Timberlake plays Eddie Palmer, a guy who has just been released after twelve years in prison. He gets on a bus and returns to his small, rural hometown in Louisiana. His grandma, Vivian (played by June Squibb), welcomes him home, where she has kept his old room and has it all ready for him. She is kind and loving but firm, insisting that he will go to church with her on Sundays if he lives there. Eddie, who likes to be called Palmer, searches all over town (which is quite economically depressed) for a job but can't get hired. When he applies at the local school for an opening for an assistant janitor, the principal turns him down at first, on the basis of his felony, but when he realizes he's Vivian's grandson and attended church with him on Sunday, he hires him. His boss, fellow Janitor Sibs, played by Lance E. Nichols, is also willing to give him a chance and reserves judgement. Vivian has a next-door neighbor who lives on a trailer on her land, Shelly, played by Juno Temple. Shelly is a mess, drug-addicted and involved with a cruel, violent man, but she loves her sweet son named Sam, played by Ryder Allen. Sam is a different kind of kid, a boy who loves pretty things, playing with dolls, and princesses, but Vivian accepts him as he is without question. Whenever Shelly disappears (which is often), Sam stays with Vivian. Palmer isn't so sure about this weird kid, but he follows his grandma's lead and is kind to him. Gradually, slowly, Palmer and Sam get to know each other and care about each other, especially after a tragedy throws them together. They provide the caring relationship that each is missing and help to heal each other.
My husband and I both loved this movie. I had no idea Timberlake could act like this! He is excellent in this role, with a full range of complex emotions. Ryder is also wonderful as Sam, sweet and adorable and happy with himself, often unaware of how others see him. The supporting cast is great, too, and the writing is excellent. Although there are plenty of sad, even terrible, elements in Palmer's and Sam's lives, there is plenty of humor throughout the movie and warmth, too. It's the perfect mix of drama, comedy, trauma, and healing that left me laughing often and crying, too. I love when a story can make me feel like that. It's a wonderful rollercoaster ride, with some engaging characters, and I hated to say good-bye to Palmer and Sam, but I think they will both be OK now.
Palmer is an Apple original. You can get a free year of Apple TV with the purchase of any Apple device, so be sure to take advantage of that offer, if you've recently purchased any. We also enjoyed the Apple movie On the Rocks, and the TV shows The Morning Show and Home Before Dark, one of our favorites, and we are currently watching For All Mankind, which is also excellent.
Just rewatching the trailer almost brought me to tears - you don't want to miss this one!