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Los Angeles Times
But if the film flirts with being sentimental, it never completely gives in: The inherent strength of the material as well as the integrity of the filmmakers gives this coming-of-age story restraint as well as warmth.
An important and interesting story, but the reform school itself never seems terribly harsh.
Though exploring, among other things, fallibility, homosexuality, injustice and loss, the picture seems afraid to really make any kind of strong statement, whether political or psychological.
A quaint, romanticized rendering.
The film's intimations of bisexual romance have a certain innate drama that no amount of bad acting or cornball rugby matches can completely erase.
It's really a crock: a coming-of-age boys' prison film that has only a fanciful link with Behan's life. The film is a bastard grandchild of Tony Richardson's 1962 "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner."
As drama it feels forced and highly conventional.
New York Post
Somewhere along the way, Borstal Boy became fatally compromised.
The direction is so muted and sentimental and the pacing so soporific that only Ciarian Tanham's saturated color cinematography of the sylvan countryside breaks the monotony.
Mixes a rites-of-passage story with political and sexual elements to solid but finally uninvolving results.
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