Boy A

"Very Good"

Boy A Review


The title of John Crowley's Boy A comes from a court case where two young defendants are referred to as Boy A and Boy B. Both murderers before their proper teen years, these alphabetically-labeled tykes get sent to a juvenile facility; only one makes it out breathing.

The majority of Crowley's sophomore effort, after the jumpy gangster flick Intermission, focuses on the redemption of this young man in the public eye. Given the new handle Jack (Andrew Garfield), the titular young offender finds a job through his rehabilitation specialist Terry (Peter Mullan) at a warehouse and delivery service. With a new best friend named Chris (Alfie Owen) and Michelle, his new receptionist girlfriend (a superb Siobhan Finneran), Jack starts feeling at home in the small shady room he's given. The public remains unaware of him until, fatefully, he helps save a young girl from a car accident and gets his picture in the local news.

A character study where mood trumps history, Crowley's film has a lot to do with a crime and almost nothing to do with the criminal. The murder, shown in flashback in the film's last quarter, explicates Jack's emotional inertia, but the crime mostly affects the tone of the film, both in its camerawork and its editing. The camerawork, courtesy of the young and talented cinematographer Rob Hardy, has a misty effect on the story, as if shrouded in the still-thick haze of Jack's uncertainty. As a character, Jack moves forward into his relationship with Michelle and his camaraderie with Chris, but the look of the film is stalled on unshakable regret.

Jack is played by the young actor Andrew Garfield, who played the insolent student to Robert Redford's holier-than-thou professor in the misguided Lions for Lambs and, earlier this year, Francis Watson in The Other Boleyn Girl. After such minor performances in minor works, Garfield's performance in Boy A comes to be a sort of revelation. Fragility is the key component of the performance, but Garfield annotates this with a protective element. He's a blowfish with an Epsom accent: unassuming and without cause for concern... until he's agitated and then quickly expands, both physically and emotionally.

Jack's violent side is only indulged once, a hypnotic sequence in a dance club mutating into a somewhat conventional brawl over a girl. What we see more is Jack's moments of quiet reverie with his three confidants, most specifically Terry and Michelle. The scenes between Garfield and Finneran are simply exquisite: a tender moment after their first tryst, a Polaroid photo shoot during a tandem bath. But it's Jack's relationship with Terry that seems more pervasive. Prizing Jack's recovery over the severed relationship with his own son, Terry has simply given up on having a personality away from his job; a fact made clear when he shares some beers with his son and drunkenly mutters about Jack as his greatest accomplishment. Mullan, the great character actor from Children of Men and the criminally-underseen Session 9, turns Terry into the film's saddest proposition: a man pinning his hopes to the tragic Jack.

Though it constantly shifts into conventional structure and suffers from an ending that feels more flustered than emotive, Boy A turns out to be an effective workout of genre mechanics. Crowley, as in Intermission, has an impressive ability to hit a stride in tone, his pacing and mood both acts of concentrated consistency. With his three central performances, the young director probes something that was also plumbed in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and Peter Berg's Hancock, although obviously in a smaller context: Is the public ever interested in forgiveness, or are we just sniffing for the faintest hint of evil until the new messiah steps up?

Harp for dinner again?



Boy A

Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 4th September 2008

Distributed by: The Weinstein Co.

Production compaines: Film 4

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 52 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Lynn Horsford

Starring: as Jack Burridge, Katie Lyons as Michelle, as Terry, Alfie Owen as Eric Wilson, as Chris, as Kelly, as Zeb

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.