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

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.