Boy A (2008)
Director: John Crowley
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Peter Mullan, Shaun Evans
Plot: The story of a young ex-con Jack, newly released from serving a prison sentence for a murder he committed as a child.
Genre: Crime / Drama / Romance
Awards: Won Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (Berlin).
Rating: M18 for language, sexuality, some disturbing content and brief drug use.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: MILD)
Boy A is not a film to be enjoyed with an unsequestered heart. It is a character piece which means there is minimal plot and lots of dialogue. The film explores an issue that has been and is still prevalent in many developed societies - the discrimination of ex-convicts. In Boy A, British director John Crowley based his film loosely on a horrifying true case of a brutal murder of a six-year-old girl by a ten-year-old boy.
The title character is Jack (played by Andrew Garfield). More than a decade ago, Jack was charged with manslaughter and was locked up for 'as long as it was lawfully possible'. Now, he is released from prison and is heavily reliant on a parole contact and social worker, Terry (played by Peter Mullan), to help him to reconcile with a changed society.
Boy A is a performance-driven film. The star of the show belongs mostly to Garfield, who gives a naked, honest display in a difficult and emotionally-charged role. Supporting actor Mullan's performance cannot be underestimated too; he lends weight and stability to his role as a father figure to Jack.
The character interplay between these two actors are the juiciest parts of the film, offering insight to the mind of an ex-convict hell bent on redeeming himself and at the same time, attempting to successfully integrate into a new society.
Questions on morality are raised during the film. Is it wrong to forgive someone who is willing to turn over a new leaf or is it right and fair to give someone a second chance despite the severity of his crime? Will time ever heal all wounds? It really depends on both parties, and yes it takes two hands to clap.
Boy A does not shy away from showing scenes of strong juvenile violence with loads of profanity. As we sympathize with Jack, we also realize how fragile the human condition is. As his past catches up with him, Jack slowly finds out that he has no place in a society that is unforgiving and hostile. The payoff at the end of Boy A is tragic yet satisfying. It is a bleak film, but it demonstrates the importance of cinema as a platform to reflect on the boo-boos of our societies.
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