I just saw Protagonist, a documentary about the lives of four men, including Joe Loya, a convicted bank robber turned journalist and writer. A few years ago, I read his memoir, The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell, and later got to know him a bit. I went to the premier of Protagonist with little reconnaissance on the film save for the fact that its protagonists were men whose lives had been ruled by crime, terrorism, martial arts, and Christianity. Ninety minutes later, I left rapt by this riveting rumination on masculinity and man’s obsessive need for self-control, and blown away by the masterful storytelling technique of filmmaker Jessica Yu. It’s unlike any film I’ve ever seen, one I’ll carry it with me for a long time.
The day after the screening, I arrived at my office so amped up about Protagonist that one of officemates saw it three hours later, texting me moments after to say that she couldn’t wait to discuss the film. In this story’s obsessive spirit, I’m on a mission to spread the word.
Read this rave from The New York Times. Watch this trailer below.