Knuckle is a pull no punches (pun not intended) look into the secretive and downright terrifying world of the Irish Traveller community. Chronicling a history of violent feuding between rival families, the story focuses on two brothers as they fight for their reputations and the honour of their family name.
The Joyce and Quinn Families have been at war for almost a decade and filmaker Ian Palmer has been there every step of the way, capturing the emotional and violent feud as its unfolds. The feud began after a scuffle outside a London pub ended with the death of one of the clan members and a manslaughter charge for another. Fueled by taunting videos that the gangs make to provoke their rivals and a constant fear of disappointing their elders and brethren, they never back down and simple video taunts always end in a violent battle in a secluded country lane – usually video’d by family members and all documented by Palmer.
As a film, Knuckle falls down, hard to watch scenes and a lack of structure constantly pull you out of the action, but is that the intention? This doesn’t work as a film, but the scattered scenes and haphazard structure only serve to compliment the lives of those being captured on screen. Their lives have very little structure and whereas some would argue (especially the characters) that this is a tale of revenge and family honour spanning a decade – I would argue that these are just bored men who love to fight, and look for any reason to do so.
Palmer deserves credit for the danger he put himself in and throughout the film you genuinely fear for his safety as much as you do the men involved. You find yourself wanting to throw the towel in for everyone involved and hopefully put an end to what is male bravado at its lowest.