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

New Movies

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

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.