Written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a genuine and stirring adventure starring Shia LeBeouf, Dakota Johnson and breakthrough star Zachary (Zack) Gottsagen.
Set in modern day North Carolina, it follows the serendipitous pairing of Zak and Tyler as they both flee from their circumstances chasing the elusive ideal of something better than this.
Zak, (Zack Gottsagen) a young man with Down Syndrome, with little support and incredible determination, escapes his nursing home to follow his dream of becoming a pro-wrestler, while Tyler (Shia LeBeouf) runs from bad decisions, guilt and grief. Together they travel through the Deep South, tracked through fields, bayous and open waters by Zak’s compassionate carer, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), and hunted by some very dangerous men out for revenge.
With strong echoes of Huckleberry Finn, The Peanut Butter Falcon, is an adventure from beginning to end dealing with themes of family, discrimination and acceptance. It has a sense of North Carolina being a world all of its own, as if this film is a portal into a place where everything is similar but different and the weird and incredible is possible.
The absolute stand-out in this film is the performance of Zack Gottsagen. As Zak, he is solemn, naive, laugh-out-loud funny and curious, giving incredible depth and visibility to disability and shattering the stereotypes of Down Syndrome that have persisted for far too long.
The Peanut Butter Falcon does without the mainstream hype of the Oscars or the Academy Awards, since its release last year overseas, the film and its team has won and been nominated for dozens of awards including Zack Gottsagen’s performance and the quality and depth of the story.