Jun 9, 2010

Boy A

Boy A (2007)

Directed by John Crowley. Starring Andrew Garfield, Peter Mullan, Siobhan Finneran.

Long story short: At the age of 24, a man is released from prison, where he's spent most of his life - he'd been sentenced for a murder of another child. Now he attempts to start over in a new town with a new identity.

... Okay. So. I just finished watching this film, and it moved me, a lot. Then afterwards I glanced through some topics on the film's IMDb board, like I often do. And I found out that a lot of people think that this film is based on actual events - apparently there are a lot of parallels to the murder of James Bulger. I knew very little about this case before, and was obviously shocked as I look at it closer. My mind began to wander around things that were far too disturbing and will probably give me nightmares, so I was sensible enough to stop there. But. I also began to think about the film differently, so I think I'll sleep on it and finish this post tomorrow, when I'll hopefully be able to view it as a purely fictional story, like the author of the original novel most likely meant it to be. And I really need to clear my head from all these horrible thoughts.

Alright, it's the morning after. I didn't have nightmares, but before falling asleep I had to numb my brain by watching TV shop commercials. Apparently, it worked. Anyway.

Andrew Garfield plays the main character admirably well. He definitely someone to keep an eye on in the future. The way he plays Jack - making him vulnerable, delicate, hurt, and yet sympathetic and reservedly optimistic about his uncertain future - makes it difficult to judge him for his past. I don't know about the rest of you, but I symphatized with Jack all the time. And it was almost a bit alarming how easily I forgave him for the horrible thing he once did. I was willing to give him a second chance - and that's one of the great things about this film: like the tag line asks, who decides who gets a second change?

All the people in the film feel very real. Peter Mullan plays Terry, a social worker, who dedicates himself to Jack's case, doing his very best to help him settle in and start over. Siobhan Finneran plays Kelly, a confident and compassionate girl, whom Jack falls in love with. I also liked Shaun Evans' character Chis, who becomes friends with Jack. He seemed like a fair, nice guy. (And ahem, he was good-looking, ahem.)

Structurally the film was very good, too. It gradually revealed more and more about Jack's past and that horrible incident, sometimes giving only flashes of things to come, and letting the viewer to guess and do their own conclusions about certain things. While at present we see Jack getting a job, making friends, partying, and once in a while actually looking really happy and like anyone else. And yet he's always struggling, never able to let go of the past, always glancing behind his back and fearing that someone will find out who he is.

Boy A is a rare film that I can recommend to anyone. I usually prefer lighter and more positive movies, and even though Boy A is a difficult, dark, even depressing film, I don't regret watching it, not at all. The hours and minutes flew by and in the end I didn't want to say goodbye to the characters yet. It was a very emotinal film and yes, there were some tears towards the end. And after I finish this post I'll order the book this film is based on. This is a story I'm not willing to let go just yet.

Boy A had a big impact on me, and it'll surely linger on my mind for quite a while. This is PARTLY because of the research I did afterwards and how it shocked me. It's disturbing enough that grown-ups do things like that, but little children... That's something I don't want to think about too much, but really, who's to blame? Before this post turns into society critique, I'll stop. (And go cheer myself up by watching Glee.) Films like Boy A are great and really, really worth watching, but there's a reason why I don't watch them too often. Fiction is always just fiction, no matter how horrifying, but reality is something that you can't so easily overlook. And it shouldn't always be mixed with fiction.

"You grew. You changed. You earned the right to be Jack Burridge. And Jack Burridge has not lied to that girl, 'cause Jack Burridge has done nothing to lie about."

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