Monday, October 13, 2008

Boy A: Grade C

Boy A (2008)
Andrew Garfield, Alfie Owen, Peter Mullan, Taylor Doherty. Director John Crowley.

A young man (Garfield) is released from prison after a childhood murder he participated in (played by Owen), with his violent childhood friend (Doherty), now dead. His social worker (Mullan) helps him get a job in a warehouse in a different city, with a new name, to start life fresh. He is successful and although extremely shy, makes friends and even develops a female romantic relationship. Inevitably though, his past leaks out and his new world crumbles when everyone rejects him. The strength of the movie is the very strong acting, especially by Garfield, who is a completely sympathetic character, and that’s what makes the tragic ending so poignant. The main weakness is the way the backstory is revealed to us in small flashbacks in an attempt to create artificial mystery where there really is none. That is a cheesy technique you would see on television. All it does is make the main character uninterpretable until we have enough background information, which is late in the movie. That could have worked to make us have the point of view of his contemporaries and then experience the change in attitude when we learn the truth about him, but the flashbacks are fragmentary and ambiguous and actually seem to exonerate him.

The working class British and Scottish accents are a bit thick for American ears, and many lines are mumbled and slurred, so it is a challenge to track the dialog. Overall then, this is a mundane though tragic tale, badly told, but well acted.

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