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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful film that poses interesting questions
The death of a child is always shocking on screen. Back in 1931, audiences watching the horror masterpiece Frankenstein sat in shock as the monster threw a young girl into the lake, drowning her. Watching the film now, it still maintains its shock value. John Carpenter's excellent 1976 film Assault On Precinct 13 sees a heartless thug remorselessly shoot a young girl in a...
Published on 2 May 2011 by TGillespie

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half stars.
Adapted from the novel by Jonathan Trigell, director John Crowley's British film, BOY A tells the story of 'Jack', a young male finally released from prison for a killing committed with a friend when they were both young. With the assistance of Terry, a (plausibly smug) denizen of the mental health industry, 20-something Jack is established with a whole new identity...
Published on 27 May 2009 by Son of Nietzsche


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful film that poses interesting questions, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
The death of a child is always shocking on screen. Back in 1931, audiences watching the horror masterpiece Frankenstein sat in shock as the monster threw a young girl into the lake, drowning her. Watching the film now, it still maintains its shock value. John Carpenter's excellent 1976 film Assault On Precinct 13 sees a heartless thug remorselessly shoot a young girl in a brutal scene that I couldn't believe when I saw it. It's difficult and risky portraying the death of a child that ultimately represents the innocence that we all see disappear as we grow older. However, one thing that is rarely even attempted on screen is to follow the killer of a child as a main protagonist. Fritz Lang tried and ultimately succeeded in M, one of the greatest films ever made. That was back in 1931, and it's rarely been tried since.

Boy A stars Andrew Garfield as Eric Wilson, a young man recently released from prison, getting ready to start a new life under the new identity of Jack Burridge. Helped to re-locate and ultimately settle in his new surroundings is Jack's rehabilitation worker Terry (played by the ever-reliable Peter Mullan), who treats Jack almost as a son, having been with him from his troubled beginnings. Finding a new job and making friends at work, he becomes romantically involved with receptionist Michelle (Katie Lyons) and looks like he is slowly being accepted back into society. But Jack is hiding a dark secret from his past, and were this truth ever to be discovered, it would mean the end to his new life and the possibility of a lynch-mob reaction. His childhood is revealed in flashbacks, as he falls in with Philip (Taylor Doherty) at school and begin a strange friendship which ultimately ends in tragedy for both of them.

Boy A's main strength is its refusal to take a moral stance. It just tells the story of a mentally scarred young man who made a terrible decision early in his life that has had an irreversible impact on the rest of it. Garfield is terrific as an almost child-like adult struggling with the need to grow up quickly and face a strange and often hostile world. When he begins his awkward romance with Michelle, his character appears to almost feel guilty about allowing himself to enjoy it, with knowledge of what he's done and the possibility that the truth may be revealed. In a powerful scene, while Jack and Terry are having a drink in a pub, Jack discusses the fate of Philip in prison and wonders why he has been allowed to have a second chance. Garfield is outstanding as I mentioned before, earning a BAFTA for his performance back in 2008. He has come far since this and will play Spider-Man in the upcoming re- imagining of the comic-book hero.

The film has invited comparisons to the infamous 1993 James Bulgar case, in which two youths Robert Thompson and Jon Venables tortured and horrifically murdered the 2-year old child in Liverpool. For an incident that saw one of the most vicious public outcries in British history, the film has taken a massive risk not to stir up a similar controversy. Thankfully, everything in the film is sensitively done, taking time to show the backstory of the main character up to the incident. It also doesn't sugar-coat it either, building up with an almost uncomfortable intensity that tastefully doesn't linger. It also poses some important questions about the legal system, trial-by-media, and how old a person should be before they can take responsibility for their actions. It attempts to answer none of course, letting the film provoke discussion.

It's a fascinating, sad, funny, tragic and unsettling film that is well handled by director John Crowley, and strongly performed by the cast. If only more films would have the balls to tackle such a sensitive subject. Superb.

(...)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 17 Jan 2012
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
This film is worth seeing for Andrew garfields fragile and yet charming performance alone. Add to that a well written story about a controversial subject matter and your on to a winner! Now what the hell are you doing reading reviews buy it!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half stars., 27 May 2009
Adapted from the novel by Jonathan Trigell, director John Crowley's British film, BOY A tells the story of 'Jack', a young male finally released from prison for a killing committed with a friend when they were both young. With the assistance of Terry, a (plausibly smug) denizen of the mental health industry, 20-something Jack is established with a whole new identity. Inevitably shy and socially-awkward after spending most of his life under overt institutionalized discipline, Jack struggles to adjust to a modern world that he has never really known, gradually easing into his first job, making friends, and the tentative first steps with a girlfriend.

The story of Jack's past is told through the mechanism of his occasional, tortured flashbacks. As Jack's relationship with his girlfriend intensifies, he wants to disclose his history to her, but is dissuaded by his counsellor Terry, and by the actions of tabloid-mentality vigilantes, who have learned of his release and seek to track him down. Tension mounts palpably as we await the inevitable - the revelation of Jack's past identity - and the shattering consequences for the world that he has so painfully built.

BOY A gives the primary focus of its attention to Jack's present; the initial process of his adjustment is handled with warmth and evokes viewer empathy as he encounters facets of daily-life completely foreign to him after his long years of incarceration. A stranger in a strange land. The past killing is only briefly revealed, and in sketchy detail - which is fortunate, not only because the film's clear emphasis is on who Jack is now, but because the few revelations which we are fed are far and away the weakest element of the film (as the point where the screenplay promulgates the medico-juridical compulsion to account for 'character' through childhood events). Happily, these elements can be ignored for the most part, since thematically the central problematic contemplates the constructed notion of "the dangerous individual", and the application of this psychiatric invention to the all-too-human figure of Jack. The film's unifying thread thus opposes Terry's frequent assertions that Jack has the right to leave his past behind him, versus the lamentably-prevalent bourgeois 'morality' ("think of the children") of the torch-wielding villagers baying for Jack's blood.

A strong soundtrack accompanies the occasionally-indistinct dialogue, and Andrew Garfield as Jack turns in a truly outstanding and authentic début performance. Despite some weak moments, BOY A is a carefully-constructed, powerful drama, and should provoke long-overdue discussion of the harmfulness of our medico-juridical system, along with a questioning of the 19th century mythology of 'The Monster' that is so desperately clung to by contemporary societies. Well worth viewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars subtitles, 16 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
Great and very moving film, but why aren't there any subtitles ? This makes it very difficult for non-native speakers to understand .....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good drama., 29 Nov 2011
By 
R. C. Harris "Eden House" (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
Don't expect to bask in a feel good factor when you view this programme. But it is well acted, and great performances from all involved.

The main character Jack, is released from prison with a new identity plus a mentor. Ongoing flashbacks reveal his secondary role in the killing carried out by him and his friend, when mere children themselves. (A certain similarity to another actual 'released into the community' case did come to mind).

As a total aside. Why is it, that in so many TV films the interior lights are on even on the brightest of days? Presumably for camera lighting purposes but it can be very distracting once you notice it!

Anyway, back to Boy A. It is evident that your sympathies are being manipulated through the character development, but that's fine. If he was a right toe rag then it would defeat the moral of the story. The rehabilitation of Jack is carefully constructed and you find yourself hoping it does not fall apart. You see through his eyes, his job and the difficulties in coming to terms with a totally new world. For him, it is full of values and a culture that is as foreign as a distant continent.

I would like to have seen a more imaginative conclusion. But otherwise, a very watchable programme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb., 30 Dec 2010
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
I watched this film when I was bored one day, as my friend had recommended it to me after we had had a discussion about the Jamie Bulger murder and whether or not we thought it was right the boys were allowed to have a new life.
This aside, as I know the film is not about this in any way (even though there are similarities), Boy A is probably one of the best films i've seen all year. As someone on the side that children who commit such crimes should be kept in juvenile detention (or wherever they're kept) for life after committing such crimes, this film actually made me reconsider that view. Andrew Garfield is without a doubt one of the best young actors around today, and he portrays this man in such a way that made me believe maybe some people do deserve a second chance.
Like i've said, one of the best films i've seen in a long time and i think Andrew Garfield truly deserved his bafta for this role, as he is nothing short than outstanding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 5 Jun 2010
By 
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
Whether you are pro rehabilitation, or someone who believes that criminals should remain in prison, this movie will make you question about your own beliefs.
Another question is raised, how does society create young monster? However, this is not thrown in your face, but it is all done in a sublte way.
All in all, it is a must-see movie, with a great cast and an outstanding performance from Andrew Gardield.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, 6 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
Particularly given it's interesting storyline (a childhood killer), this film delivers in such an extraordinary way. Initially whilst watching it made me want to hate Andrew Garfield, but then as the storyline progressed - one cannot help but to grow fond of him. An emotional rollercoaster, that delivers right up to the last minute and will leave you with a very mixed set of emotions.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy A, 13 Aug 2010
By 
CORA. (Nottinghamshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
I guess my review will be a little biased as I'm fascinated by the psychology behind our upbringings and how it shapes us. I'm also very much pro-rehabilitation so found this film extremely moving.

I really don't want to give too much away because it's better to see the story unfold for yourself but this is basically the story of how the main character is coping with life outside of 'prison' after having grown up there for committing a serious crime when he was very young.

He gets a job and makes friends and goes to the pub. He does all the things 'normal' people do whilst having to live with the guilt of what he's done. The flashbacks to his childhood are so powerful. I think I cried a bit too much whilst watching this!!

I found this film very engaging but also at times quite difficult to watch due to the nature of his crime. Particularly how closely it relates to things we've seen in the news in the past. However, I think that adds to the tone of the film and makes you think about what you're watching a lot more.

It didn't change my stance on rehabilitation and I would be really interested to find out what it did for other people!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy A, 9 Aug 2010
This review is from: Boy A [DVD] (DVD)
This is a fantastic film and me my wife and 2 daughters watched it or were all glued to it. Andrew Garfield is excellent. What would your first dance be like in a night club having had his life so far?? Who know's what would have become of us if we had had their upbringings, although they should still have known the difference between, right and wrong.
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