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RELEASED: 2007, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 105 mins
DIRECTOR: John Crowley
PRODUCERS: Tally Garner, Lynn Horsford & Nick Marston
SCREENPLAY: Mark O'Rowe
MUSIC: Paddy Cunneen
Andrew Garfield as Jack Burridge
Peter Mullan as Terry
Katie Lyons as Michelle
Shaun Evans as Chris
Alfie Owen as Eric Wilson (Jack when young)
Taylor Doherty as Philip Craig
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Adapted from Jonathan Trigell's novel of the same name, Boy A begins with 24-year-old Eric Wilson being released from prison and put under the care of his probation officer. Due to having been convicted as a schoolboy of murdering a young girl together with his friend (Philip Craig), Eric must change his name in order to start a new life and swear never to speak about the past or give anything away which could compromise him....he chooses the name Jack Burridge.
Nervous, shy, unsure and up to a point institutionalised, Jack is given a job at a delivery company and gradually, albeit hesitatingly, starts to make friends with his workmates. He also falls in love with Michelle, the company's secretary, and they begin to date.
Although Jack is more or less coping quite well with easing himself into society, he is haunted by flashbacks and nightmares of the crime that he in childhood was convicted of, and what led up to it.
As Jack and Michelle get closer to one another, various things happen which seriously threaten the confidentiality of Jack's true identity.
Boy A is quite an intense film, which has the quality of a play about it, and I believe - possibly wrongly - that it was originally made for television, being financed by Film4.
Various movie information websites suggest that Boy A has too many similarities to the case of the now adult two boys who were responsible for the murder of James Bulger, but I personally feel it is a mistake...possibly even a dangerous one... to compare the two, because Boy A is fiction.
The acting throughout Boy A is very good, particularly that of Andrew Garfield as Jack Burridge, he expertly portraying the difficulties and emotional stumbling blocks of an adult being thrust back into a community which, if they knew his real identity, would string his entrails from the nearest lamp-post. Garfield beautifully expressed a wide range of emotions whilst playing his role, and I believe he won the 2008 BAFTA Best Actor award for his performance.
The other, perhaps lesser adulated actor in Boy A who left a marked impression on me is Taylor Doherty as schoolboy Philip Craig, who befriends fellow pupil Eric Wilson...that being Jack Burridge's real, childhood name. The character of Philip Craig really is a nasty piece of work, with Taylor Doherty playing the role with an excellence that I feel would be hard to beat, as he acted out the part of a schoolboy with a seriously brutal disposition.
Aside from a ripple of guitar here and there, I didn't notice any musical score at all to accompany Boy A, and I guess it's possible that my lack of awareness of such may have been due to being engrossed in the film...well, engrossed up to a point.
Boy A is quite a dark film, tense and hard-hitting in parts, and it is easy to get into the storyline despite it dragging somewhat here and there. I did find certain scenarios to be a bit surplus, with time being wasted on them that perhaps could have been better spent providing a more thorough journey into Eric/Jack's dysfunctional home and family life. Such is touched on briefly close to the beginning of the film, but I feel nowhere near enough.
The character development is very strong in Boy A, but such was spoiled a little bit, because some of the dialogue spoken by the actors is indistinct. I also found the personalities of the main characters to be rather odd in a way that it isn't easy to describe, other than to say their reactions towards certain things in everyday life and their general conversational style left me with a feeling that something about the whole mood of the film was lacking.
However, the topic of the storyline is a very interesting one, especially as it spews forth a situation that Jack finds himself in and doesn't know how to cope with. This is something that I personally had never given any thought to when it comes to the issue of how a person who'd been incarcerated as a child for committing murder (such as James Bolger's killers or Mary Bell) has to constantly deny themselves certain things which those of us who do lead a normal life, take for granted. In that sense, Boy A is quite eye-opening and it certainly gave me food for thought and something to ponder over.
What I really want to do in this review is pull the film of Boy A to bits and analyse the important whys and wherefores right down to the last full stop, but I'm unable to because such would give away too much and be riddled with spoilers.
I was engrossed in Boy A, being eager to learn the eventual outcome, but my levels of absorption were hampered somewhat, mostly by some mumbled phrases by the actors. Perhaps the script also could have been sharpened up somewhat, because as it stands, it lacks a depth which I feel should have been par for the course, but it nonetheless is still a very good, thought-provoking and largely well-acted film.
Some people may find Boy A difficult to watch due to the subject matter, but I personally feel only those with a lynch-mob mentality would be unable to tune into the underlying message. Boy A has been issued with a 15 certificate, but if I had my way, I'd hike it up to 18...not because it is riddled with Anglo-Saxon expletives, exotic sex scenes or gory violence...but simply due to it having a very adult theme which needs to be reflected on in an adult way. There is some swearing, some sex and a little violence, but nothing so severe or graphic that I feel a 15-year-old should be protected from. However, a 15-year-old may not be in possession of the perspective from which the film needs to be appreciated and understood....but, if you are all grown-up and interested in what makes society tick, then this could be for you.
At the time of writing, Boy A can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £4.51 to £9.45
Used: from £4.23 to £8.40
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Jack is a 24-year old boy who spent more then half of his life in prison. The story begins when Jack is about to start a new life, social worker Terry has to help him with that. To start his new life, he needs a new identity. He chooses the name Jack, with that new name comes a pair of brand new sneakers. Jack gets a small room in a house. From there he starts too look for a job. His new life is starting to get successful, he finds a job, he finds himself a girlfriend and he has friends. But the press is looking for him and his past...
During the movie there are some flashbacks, these return to Jacks childhood. He's walking down a street and 3 bully's are getting at him. Boy B, also known as Philip Craig beats the hell out of those bullies. Philip and Jack soon become friends. They hang out together and skip school a lot. What first seems as some naughtiness soon becomes a shocking crime...
Andrew Garfield plays the young man Jack Burridge. At first he's a shy and somewhat nervous character. As the movie goes on, he grows more confidence. Jack plays a realistic character who knows how to keep the viewers attention.
Peter Mullan also known from the movie 'Trainspotting', is named Terry in this movie, plays the role of a social worker. His character is proud of his achievements but at the same time it struggles trough daily life. He knows how to bring over this ambivalence in an adult character. The strongest part of his character is the intonation he puts in his voice.
Shaun Evans plays Jacks best friend Chris. This self-assured you man takes care of Jack. He takes him t parties and helps him with his work. His acting skills are good but sometimes a bit overacted.
***Image, sound and Extras***
The images used in the movie are a bit vague. The movie has realistic soft colours and is a bit dark. Sounds are good and clear, the dialogues are easy to follow. The actors articulate fine and they are easy to understand. This DVD has a scene-selection and some trailers. Apart from that there are no extras.
The movie is suitable for children who are 12 years and older. This movie contains fear and swearing. The length of the film is 97 minutes and is spoken in English. The sound is Dolby digital 5.1 or 2.0. The image aspect ratio is anamorphic 16:9.
"With Every Heartbeat" - Kleerup feat. Robyn
"Drop the Pressure" - Mylo
"Sexiest Man In Jamaica" - Mint Royale
"Floor Basics" - Mint Royale
"Princess" - Mint Royale
"The Warning" - Hot Chip
I chose this movie because I had seen a trailer on another DVD. The images are somewhat vague, sometimes I had problems reading the subtitles. It does give the movie it's own natural character. The soundtracks were somewhat familiar, especially 'With every heartbeat', it fits in the setting of the movie. Boy A has a strong story but it lags a bit. The actors did a great job making the story realistic and interesting. I will not tell how the movie ends because I don't want to spoil it but it's definitely surprising. After seeing the movie, I kept thinking of the story. The movie made quite an impression.
This DVD can be bought on amazon.com, it costs £ 8.
---This review has also been posted on my own personal blog---