In the English film Boy A, a young man is released from prison after serving time for murdering a girl as a child. As the man tries to adjust to a life he knows nothing about, he tries to hide his past, afraid that if revealed, everything will shatter.
Boy A was recommended to me, and it was a good recommendation. The drama, which stars Andrew Garfield as Jack and Peter Mullan as his parole contact and social worker, is an intriguing, fast-paced and ultimately sad movie that questions how actions do not necessarily define a person.
Garfield is excellent in the lead, portraying an awkward and reserved ex-convict who just wants to fit in. At the same time, fitting in is what got him into trouble in the first place; he is a person who is kind and intelligent, but not always the best decision maker or judge of character. Interestingly, while watching Boy A, I just assumed that this was an English-made flick with English actors; Garfield, an American, completely pulls off the blue collar Manchester bit. Well-done.
Mullan is also excellent in a mentoring role, bringing a harsh sincerity to the picture. He's one of those actors who has been around for a while but never broken into the mainstream, but his choice in projects continues to impress.
More importantly, the movie itself draws you in instantly. Director John Crowley (Intermission) does an excellent job of establishing Jack as a flawed but likable guy up front, making it hard to dislike him even after his act as a child is fully revealed. Crowley, working on the script by Mark O'Rowe and the novel by Jonathan Trigell, also sets up a group of well-casted characters, few of whom really stand out and yet all contribute in a synergistic way.
Boy A works on many levels, most importantly as a strong character drama. This is quintessential British drama at its best. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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