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  • gpadillo27 September 2004
    What a surprise of a little movie. Young American actor Shawn Hatosy (he's from Frederick, Maryland) gives an astonishing performance as IRA teen gone wrong, Irish writer Brendan Behan. Hatosy's "angry young man" is sincerely angry, but there are cracks in that tough veneer that show a sensitive, thoughtful kid wanting to break out. (Measure Hatosy's performance from "Outside Providence" to "Borstal Boy" and we're looking at a young actor of exceptional depth and promise.)

    At the reformatory Borstal, Brendan discovers new hardships: living, eating and sleeping with his enemies. He learns however, that deep down, our enemies have the same needs, wants, fears and desires as we do ourselves. His budding friendship with the openly gay sailor, Charlie Milwal - despite its rocky beginning, captures the joy and frustration of having a best friend and through this friendship each learns how to understand, forgive and love. As Charlie, Danny Dyer gives a performance which is in every regard as equally deep as Hatosy's.

    Brendan's taking to fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde and his eventual barnhouse production of "The Importance of Being Earnest" mounted by the young convicts for their fellow inmates. This is an absolute joy and becomes almost the fulcrum from which the story veers into its final direction.

    Michael York, Eva Birthistle and the rest of the ensemble all contribute fine performances (particularly Ms. Birthistle who, as a secondary love interest doesn't arrive until a good half way through the story and is both beautiful and touching).

    Director Peter Sheridan crams an almost unbelievable amount of story into into a mere 90 minutes so the film flies by. The ending may be a bit abrupt tying things up too tidily, but this is a minor quibble in a stunning, touching gem of a movie.
  • I read the book six times, and couldn't wait to see the movie. I was rather put off at first because so much of the movie is pure fiction. Charlie and Brendan only had one slight spat in their three years together in Borstal, and ended up the best of friends anyway. The young lady in the movie never existed, and much of the rest of the movie was oddly fictitious as well. Charlie Millwall was on the Southampton when it was sunk off of Malta (in the Mediterranean), but I assume they used the HMS Prince Of Wales because they had film footage dealing with the sinking of that ship, and it made a good way for Brendan to find out that Charlie was dead (far more powerful than the scene in the book and the one in the play).

    Despite all of that, I loved the movie. Brendan Behan did actually say "the English can love people without them being seven feet tall or a hundred years dead." I believe he made that statement because he knew Charlie Millwall so well, and had seen many other good people among the English people with whom he was connected in one way or another. The Warden, Mr. Joyce, was a very good person, and so were many others.

    I do believe that Brendan Behan had a serious relationship with Charlie Millwall (it's obvious in the book, even though it's never spelled out exactly). I would recommend the book to anyone, and believe that the movie was very good, the fictitious content nothwithstanding.

    Shawn Hatosy does a very good job in the movie, and Danny Dyer is better yet. Don't miss this movie.
  • I got worried when the film opened with "inspired by" Borstal Boy rather than based on. This is the sort of movie that makes me wish I had a bunch of money so I could run out and start filming "Borstal Boy 2004" and actually film the story and characters that were in the book. The characters were awful and betrayed the rich characterization of the book.

    Part of the problem was that the filmmaker looked back to 1942 with a 21st century perspective. For example he wanted to make Brendan sympathetic so Brendan befriended an out homosexual (in 1942) and a jew. Dale, the evil character hated both and was a self-proclaimed rapist. Darth Vader had more dimensions than Dale. I don't know if an IRA soldier from 1942 would look at Hitler, the enemy of his enemy, as being a worthy reason to suspend his fight for independence. Worst of all, Brendan acts like a 14 year old from the American suburbs with his revulsion of homosexuality. The tired message in the movie is that if you are against homosexuality then you, yourself, must be gay. For example, initially revulsed, Brendan ends up falling in love with Charlie. Dale mocks Charlies and later tries to rape Charlie. In the original story, despite being published in the 1950s, Brendan had no such trouble with homosexuals. When he found out Oscar Wilde was gay, he responded non-chalantly that everyone has their own way of doing things. he came across Charlie having sex with another boy and it was no big deal. The play of the same name (1971) did manage to hold true to the original story. This movie should have done the same.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (PLOT SPOILERS) An elaboration - (it is pretty much wholly different) of the autobiographical novel of the same name about the early life of Irish writer Brendan Behan this is a very moving film in places and nonsensical and cliched in others.

    the film begins with Brendan being arrested by English police just prior to planting a terrorist bomb. He briefly meets thievin Cockney sailor Charlie Millwall (Danny Dyer) who ends up in Borstal with him.

    Charlie warms to Brendan immidietly although Brendan is initially hostile. However as is inevitable, Brendan gradually revises this and they become chinas. the main prompt for this bonding is several adventures - which it must be said are by and large entirely improbable! For instance there is an army vs. boys rugby match!!! They at Brendan's request also stage an all boys "Importance of Being Earnest" which is also too odd a request to grasp! Also they try an escape that ends in tragedy.

    Another is having to paint a crumbling room into a studio for Liz,(Eva Birtwhistle)the evacuated and dissatisifed duaghter to Borstal head Joyce (Micheal York) who in time develops quite a close relationship with Brendan

    In the end Charlie and Brendan's relationship becomes closer too and Brendan realising that he harbours some attraction to Charlie kisses him.

    However the resident bully Dale (Lee Ingleby) has it in for Charlie and attacks him. This Liz walks in on and is almost raped. Brendan saves Liz abandoning Charlie. Charlie as a result leaves, joining his ship and in the end is killed when it is torpedoed. at the end Brendan kisses Liz and she encourages him to write (which kinda came out of nowhere because this film didn't give any indication he could write till the very end - kinda odd since Behan was a writer!!)

    Overall this works only because of the strength of the acting, because many elements are hokey and wholly unbelievable. Sometimes the characters are walking cliches. Liz for instance is the atypical poor little rich girl, and Birtwhistle only just pulls it off with any level of sincerity and conviction . The cartoonish super villainy of Dale was awful too, the escapees don't want Dale's involvment. Yet Dale's ears seem to be able to prick up every time they speak about the plan. I understand Dale is being potrayed as evil but does that mean they have to give him supernatural powers of attention too? don't think so! Also Lee Ingleby looks really sweet and non imposing most of the time and you wonder why some of the other boys who are all supposed to be rough criminals of some type or another doesn't smack him when he tries to interfere!

    the two central performances are what is so special Hatosy is very good as the child desperately trying to be a man and a rebel through being gruff and pretentious "I am a prisoner of war it's my duty to escape!" he says for instance more than once. he had an effective stutter too however the Irish accent is sometimes all over the place but this is also a credit to his performance because this didn't distract me(and normally such things annoy me like you wouldn't beleive)!

    the true miracle here was Dyer though he was spectacular, pure and simple. If there is any justice in this world this man will in the future be doing more high calibre work than appearing in the likes of "High Heels and Lowlifes". he is beautiful in every sense a soulful, sensitive and sad presence but still a bit of a cheeky and funny wideboy too. And he is capable of conveying heartbreak, and melancholy at being rejected with just a look. He's just the don, the scene where Liz and Brendan cry about his death almost made me cry Danny Dyer rocks!
  • I rented this because I had interest in Brendan Behan. Well, I was surprised by this film.

    Shawn Hatosy is brilliant as a young Behan. You must see him in this role.

    I was completely taken away with the story and the characters. The actors all are believable and true.

    It does concern the IRA which I know little about. This takes place during WW II and it is interesting that the Behan character, although very primal and dedicated to his commitment to the Irish Republic, does in fact concede, given the far more devastating events happening in the wider sphere of the world, that for a time at least he is willing to 'lay down arms' and not resist.

    I must mention the music. I am sorry I do not know the name of the composer, but it is superb and appropriately atmospherically Irish at the right times. The songs are all wonderful especially the ending song which one also hears at a truly pivotal and emotional point near the end of the film.

    I don't talk or write much. I just love this film. I high recommend it to people who like character-driven films.
  • I saw an advance screening of this film last week and had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Sheridan afterwards. Simply put, it is the story of a young Brendan Behan who discovers love, friendship and tragedy whilst imprisoned in an English reform school. Although he refuses to denounce his IRA affiliations, Behan is eventually released after his actions during a strange series of events at the school reveal his true and most upstanding character. The movie was very touching and well acted by an international cast. Sheridan made some daring casting choices (The Irish Behan is played by an American, Shawn Hatosy,) but the results make for a captivating film. Go and see Borstal Boy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As others have mentioned, the dialog was a real obstacle at times -- I couldn't even tell if the dockside conversation at the end was English or Gaelic. In most any other film, this would have had me at the point of surrender before reaching even the halfway point. But the story shines through here. And while parts are admittedly improbable or inaccurate, this didn't distract one bit. In the shocking final newsreel scene, I was just as distraught as Hatosy's character -- I replayed the scene at least 10 times, each time quite undone its emotional wallop.

    High marks to Hatosy, Dyer, and Inglesby, whose other work I will now purposefully seek out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Brendan Behan is a young Irish that understands the consequences of his actions when it's too late. Carrying explosives for the IRA, Brendan is apprehended during the first sequences of Peter Sheridan's film.

    Here there is clearly a disruption between the boy's wishes and his actions. For undisclosed reasons he has perpetrated a most dire action against the integrity of the United Kingdom. Or he has had such a purpose, anyway. How far can one go when insurgence seems to be the only way out? In a troubled time, in a troubled Ireland, Brendan Behan risks everything and he fails.

    He is arrested and sent to Borstal, to become yet another Borstal boy in a most peculiar penitentiary facility. Deprived of his liberty, he treats Charlie Milwall with hostility, although later he will develop an intense friendship with this young inmate.

    Behan is blinded by ideology. After all ideology is nothing more than a social construction which pertains many ambits of society. One could talk about the heterosexual normative as an ideology so strongly rooted that seems impossible to vanquish. In this case, the most obvious ideological weight comes from the ties Brendan has with the Irish Republic Army.

    Authors as diverse as Daniel Bell and Albert Camus have written about the end of ideologies. Ideology can blind people and will always be influential in the way they see the world, regardless of the positive or negative outcome of this process, ideology is a perception of the world that leaves as strong a mark as one's own body or personal history. It's then logical that Brendan struggles to be faithful to the IRA's ideology failing over and over again.

    Ideology also blinds Brendan when it comes to his true feelings. He tries to convince himself that he loves the warden's daughter. That is why at first he angrily repels Charlie's harmless advances. But then, very slowly, he starts to give in. They share one precious intimate moment before some prisoners attempt to abuse the warden's daughter. As a result Brendan has mere seconds to decide who he should protect. Must he embrace the norm, id est, heterosexuality or could he accept the forbidden, id est, homosexuality? Once again he denies his true self, and in doing so, he forever condemns Charlie to oblivion. Just as in the beginning of the film, Brendan will fully understand the consequence of his decision only when it's too late to change it. When he realizes there is nothing left to do, he truly opens his eyes. Ideology has fallen apart: his allegiance to the IRA is over, as well as his relationship with the warden's daughter. Brendan is at last, literally and metaphorically, free.
  • Although "Borstal Boy" is in my personal Top Ten, right up there with "Casablanca" and "The Last Picture Show," I had to watch it several times before I could totally understand the heavy Irish accents. In a way, that was good, as the film is worth watching several times.

    The story line takes place in 1941-42, during the darkest days of WWII for the Allies. American born Shawn Hatosy plays the part of Irish poet and writer, Brendan Behan, and does a masterful job in capturing the heavy accent, and the pathos of the era.

    Charlie Milwall, played beautifully by Danny Dyer, befriends Behan and an intense friendship builds between them. Have a handkerchief ready for the Pearl Harbor newsreel scene. It's a gut wencher, and a pivotal point for Behan. His ties with the IRA won't allow him to fully cooperate with the British operators of the Bostal House (Reform school), but he reluctantly pledges to do so until Hitler is defeated. Many viewers may not be aware that Ireland remained Neutral during WW II, and it is to Ireland that Behan, Millwall and two other 'inmates' determine they must escape. Take your hankie out again, for the beach scene of the escape episode. I'm a grown man, and men aren't supposed to cry. I shed many tears during the film, and was glad the showing room was dark.

    Eva Birthistle plays her role well as the only female in the movie. The friendship/love relationship between her and Behan is intriguing, and an integral part of the story. She seems to understand all, and to forgive all. For history buffs, and those who love to love, the film is an absolute Must See. Definitely deserves ten stars, despite the thick accents.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sure, the script sports a contemporary sensibility, but how did this engrossing little gem get lost? Far from perfect, but consider all the trite and dumbed-down stuff that has been exploding on the screen in recent years. The story was more interesting than I had anticipated, I was a kid when Brendan Behan died, my father bemoaning the loss of a talented alcoholic so young.

    Hard to reconcile the character etched so well by Shawn Hatosy succumbing to a life of alcohol, since the portrait presented, and so well acted, is one of an admirable young man overcoming so much.

    Charlie, so well played by Danny Dyer, is very interesting, so it would have been more satisfying to have the writers expanding the characters (the story itself takes about 85 minutes).

    Nevertheless, this deserved far more attention and I rate it, Very good indeed (how about a sequel, set here in the USA)?


    I have no idea whether, as others have wondered, the script is accurate. But one small nit. As man with a double minority heritage (Jewish and Gay) (that's me), I am so damn tired of having sympathy given over to us in on the screen, only to have us bumped off before the curtain falls! Let the bad guys get killed for a change.
  • jotix1005 March 2005
    Peter Sheridan, the director of "Borstal Boy", shows a good sensibility to the material based on the life of Brendan Behan. Having only seen the play at the Lyceum theater in the 70s, it was intriguing to see what kind of adaptation it received on the screen.

    The best thing in the film is the young ensemble cast gathered for the film. What comes out in the movie is how friendships made in reform camp affected Mr. Behan for life. The fact that young Brendan can get to like someone as different as Charlie, speaks volumes for tolerance for someone that comes from Brendan's background.

    Shawn Hatosy does a marvelous job in his portrayal of Brendan Behan. For an American born actor, this young man clearly demonstrates a range that many of his contemporaries don't have. In the pivotal role of Charlie Milwall, Danny Dyer gives a brilliant performance. Lee Ingleby, as the cruel Dale, is perfect. Eva Birthistle, as the daughter of the warden Joyce, is the only female in a man's world and she does a great job in making the young woman come alive. Michael York has a good opportunity in the role of Joyce.

    The only problem with the film is that the dialog is hard to follow, be it because of the sound track, or the heavy accents Mr. Sheridan has everyone speaking as a way to show authenticity. We watched the DVD version, and had to turn the volume to maximum, and still it sounded muffled. In spite of that flaw, "Borstal Boy" is a powerful movie that needs to be seen.
  • Two brilliant but under rated performances by Shawn Hatosy as Brendan Behan and Danny Dyer as Charlie Millwall.This film captures the pithiness of the original play but invokes the intense friendships of an earlier era when emotions such as these had no outlet which was positive.But the love and the pathos which is portrayed by these two brilliant actors is to be recommended.It is a travesty that such a film could not garner the appreciation it deserves on the world stage.The location is filmed just outside of Dublin, so it has the predominant colours of grey and green which enhance the drabness of the borstal scenes.Michael York although past his best, puts in a creditable performance as the Governor of the borstal.This film is a must see for aficionados of Danny Dyer.
  • In a British labor camp for lads in 1942, youthful Irish troublemaker Shawn Hatosy (portraying Brendan Behan, upon whose remembrances the film is based) comes-of-age, sharing a bumpy but intense friendship with a gay teenager and timidly romancing a local young lady as well. Curious drama apparently made with the well-intentioned goal to show the burgeoning political activism of a determined man, and how his upbringing molded the figure he was to become, but too many of these boyhood antics are overly familiar (the playful romping on the beach which precedes a tragedy, the sneaky drinking and smoking during movie-time, the somewhat campy play which brings down the house). The acting by the handsome juveniles isn't bad (though the director tends to overdose on their aw-shucks smiles and faraway glances), Michael York--despite seeming a bit tired and distanced from the proceedings--is well-cast as the camp's director, but the point of the relationships is never made clear, the emotional center of the story seems to be missing. Obviously, Behan was not homosexual, though he did greatly admire his friend, yet the struggles of the gay teenager are hardly touched upon--he's treated more like an afterthought in the story rather than an important character--and one aches for more intimacy here, more substance. The film has an effectively washed-out look and has interesting locations, but the drama isn't gripping nor enticing because the handling is so aloof. ** from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I honestly didn't think of bumping into an underrated Irish film like this and be so glad to have watched it! It's pretty well done with Shawn Hatosy putting on a thick Dublin Irish accent and Danny Dyer as the lover was pretty brilliant too. When they kissed, it just melted your heart with warm, so rosemantic haha!

    I never heard of the word "Borstal" before as a youth detention centre until I watched this movie just yesterday! Funny how you live in Ireland from the day you were born, you never really get to hear the ol Irish words!

    Its sad that the real Brendan Behan died at such a young age at 41, it's just remarkable that he had only a short life to live! Poor fella shouldn't have been killing himself with the drink and try to look after his diabetes but unfortunately, there wasn't much to be done as it was already too late for him! RIP

    Brilliant movie, actors and story, 9/10 it deserves!
  • I admit to not having yet read the book on which this film is based and I'm willing to concede that the book may well be far better than the film; as alluded to in other reviews. That being said, I found this film touching, funny, controversial, unique, all those adjectives and more.

    The casting of Danny Dyer as a homosexual sailor in the 1940s really shows his versatility as an actor and I believe this must have been a challenging and rewarding part. The film deals with issues that are taboo even by today's standards and although the narrative can be at times overly sentimental, these scenes are strangely refreshing and poignant.

    Danny Dyer has some great lines and one hilarious scene involving a football. "Borstal Boy" is unprecedented in its approach to controversial issues and makes for a film well worth watching.
  • I don't know why Pete Sheridan called this nonsense "Borstal Boy," because he tossed out everything that made that story wonderful and deep and human and warm and real and in its place put clichés and stupidity and complete fabrication laced with the worst sort of homophobic condescension and a flat-out insult to the one gay character in the script. All made ten times worse by the fact that Sheridan's an Irish filmmaker who's come up with excellent work in the past. He really should have known...and definitely done...better.

    The book begins in 1939 when Brendan Behan's arrested for smuggling bomb-making materials into Liverpool in the early months of WW2. He's 16 years old. The first section deals with the months he spends in jail waiting to be tried for the offense. With his fears. His bravado. His problems with the pro-English Priest. Problems with Dale and the policemen watching over him. The casual brutalization. Friends he makes (he's okay with Charlie being a "poof" from day one, calling each other their "china" and sharing smokes and info and reading material). The details of the day-to-day tedium. The pathetic food. All told with a simple warmth and acceptance and humanity and humor that makes you ache and laugh and sigh at the same time.

    None of this is in the movie.

    Then Brendan's sent to Borstal -- a Juvenile Detention Center, in US parlance -- where he makes more friends. Works. Learns. Teaches. Has fun. Has trouble. Protects his friends. Deals with his enemies. Grows to be a man. Decides not all the English are bad...something he was already acknowledging was truth. Again, told with a warmth and acceptance and humanity and humor that makes it seem like you're living it yourself.

    The movie? A bad Irish version of a Micky Rooney-Judy Garland "Let's put on a show" piece of junk, sort of a "Brendan Does Borstal" tale, told in such a way that everyone can see just how wonderful it is to just get along, and so Brendan can learn that "poofs" are people, too, while there's a fresh pretty girl standing nearby to make sure everybody knows he's not really "that way." And also suffer a stupendously stupid tragedy "of his own making"...not once but twice...and have everyone see how he suffers and try to make him feel better and I WANTED TO VOMIT.

    Okay...the acting is decent enough. Shawn Hatosy and Danny Dyer try to bring their characters some depth. And Michael York is always good, even when given drivel to work with. But this movie is a desecration of a beautiful book. There is no other way to put it. And that it was allowed by the Irish Film Board and various other Irish production companies to be linked to this brilliant and eloquent example of great Irish writing (even with the silly disclaimer that it's only "inspired by" that book) is disgraceful.

    Shame on you all.
  • In wartime England a reform school headed by a benign warden harbors troublemakers of different nationalities. The IRA rascal, brilliantly played by an American, Sean Hatosy, is just one of the boys whose antics propel Sheridan's film through comic scenes to a finale of loss and sadness. Sheridan's cutting is quick and deft, and, except for the last 10 minutes the plot skillfully avoids the pitfalls of sentimentality.

    Warning to new directors: pop songs on a movie soundtrack can be injurious to your film, as it is here, along with a peculiarly stagy ending in an Irish railway station, where the hero vanishes into clouds of steam.

    Otherwise the film is very moving, and certainly one of the best investigations ever into the rightness of feelings of love. Defying the long and awesome tradition of Irish verbal art, Sheridan demonstrates that sometimes silence is the best way to express the feelings that attend separation. The inmates' production of Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is a small triumph. The entire film is a huge triumph for director Sheridan. See it in a theater with a good sound system: sometimes the Irish-accented English can be hard to grasp.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Borstal Boy" (the book) is a classic example of great Irish storytelling. Some fact mixed with a bit of exaggeration and a dollop of warmth told with a wonderful manipulation of language to bring you to the final destination of truth and awakening. All best done while having a pint of Guiness or Stout. The journey is the best part, because you're made to believe you're traveling with friends and people you want to know, but one never loses sight of the total story.

    So here we have a 16 year-old Irishman who thinks he knows everything he needs to know about the British and what scum they are. Blindly trusting his "compatriots" in the IRA, he smuggles bomb-making materials into England during WW2, thinking he's doing a great thing. He's caught, tried and sent to jail, during which he learns the British are not the complete bastards he's been lead to believe they are, and that his pals back in Ireland really don't really care that much about him. He forms friendships in juvenile hall (Borstal is the British version of it) with some of the English boys he's in with as well as the guards, finds other boys and guards are weasels and not to be trusted by anyone, and does his time as if it were a vacation of sorts. There are even hints in the book that the friendship between Brendan and Charlie Milwall, his best mate in Borstal, was more than that...but it's presented in such a subtle and beautiful way, you really can't say for sure. But that's the perfection of this book -- how the language is used to hint at things without saying them outright, letting you join in on Brendan's journey and build your own version of what may or may not have happened.

    That said, this movie is a disgrace to that book. I honestly cannot believe it even got made, not with the script they used. It is the most blatant example I have ever seen of "caring" people setting out to make a "grand statement" about how we're all human beings and we should just get along...and doing it in the most insipid way possible. What was lovely in the book is made crass and simplistic and false in this movie. Brendan never had a problem with Charlie being gay. He even walked behind him during exercises and commented to himself on the clean line of his neck. But in the movie, Brendan snarls at Charlie to keep away from him and puts him down for being a poof. In the book, he snipes at a Catholic Priest about the church's support of English control of Ireland; in the movie, he makes his grand speech against oppression at a magistrate, which diminishes it greatly. In the book, he's already literate and aware; in the movie, he's presented as someone who needs to have his intellect expanded. It just goes on and on...and that's not to mention the ludicrous made-up scene where Brendan escapes and leads some fellow borstal boys straight into a minefield so they can be blown to bits and he can feel bad...which only makes him look like a complete idiot. And the addition of a pretty girl -- at an all boys' jail?! Do these filmmakers have ANY idea of how WRONG that is? To be blunt, inept is a kind way of putting it.

    Now Shawn Hatosy does an all right job as Brendan. Sometimes his mumbles are hard to follow and he seems to be mainly one-note for much of the movie, but he's not an embarrassment. And Danny Dyer does well with a badly written role. Michael York is given little to do but be there, which is a criminal waste of a fine actor. No one else makes any impression.

    As for the script -- it was "Syd Field 101" and below average for that, and Nye Heron only proves that being Irish is no guarantee of being a good storyteller. And the co-writer/ director, Pete Sheridan...he shows no talent for either writing or directing. Fact is, I think the only reason he got to make this movie was because he's related to Jim Sheirdan (someone who's also willing to twist the facts in his "fact-based" movies, but at least knows how to do it well).

    The only excuse I can find for this movie to have been made is...well, there is no excuse. Anyone who likes this movie has never read the book it's based on. Hell, they've probably never read anything more demanding than "Goodnight Moon." But for those who care about good storytelling, DO read the book. Please. And trust me -- your memory of it will be ten times better than anything you might get out of this drivel.
  • Seen at the Galway Film Fleadh (where this fine picture had its world premiere in July), Peter Sheridan makes an auspicious directing debut from this literary classic. It should be noted, however, that the film is "inspired by" not "based upon" the book by Brendan Behan. Wonderful performances from the entire cast including Hatosy, York,Dyer and Birthistle.
  • I really enjoyed this movie! Takes a careful ear to pick up on the accents at first. If it gets wider distribution (I saw at a film festival in San Francisco), it ought to really boost Shawn Hatosy's career. It's the best he's done. I'll buy it on DVD when it's available.
  • stef-decloe26 September 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    it took me so long to watch this movie. It is one of the many that stayed on the shelf for months, that I started watching but "didn't feel"...

    Today was the day I did.

    Someone wrote "schockingly beautiful", and I can only agree.

    There was some real chemistry between the main actors (and 1 actress!), and I got sympathy for almost all of them (although the villain played his role very well, too). Not being a native English speaker, I had some problems withe the accents, at times, but sometimes words are not that important, it's the eyes, it's the acts, it's... a lot more than words.

    Is this a "gay themed movie"? I really don't know. Assuming Brendan Behan was bisexual, you could call it a "coming of age" movie, as USA-ers like to do. I don't know, this was just a very beautiful movie.

    I didn't know Brendan Behan before, but I shall do some research and try to read him (if I can find his works here in Brussels...).

    Based on the emotions I felt, this is a magnificent 10/10!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie apparently documents the story of a young Brendan Behan,who is sent to be a borstal boy,after it is discovered he is a terrorist. First,let me make it very clear:this movie does not document what really happened. 90 per cent of it was created by the writer,to liven up the story. The starring role was given to an American actor,who unfortunately portrayed Behan as a spastic with a speech impairment.Whether this was intentional I cannot say,but it certinatly adds a comic edge to the movie.

    This movie has many unintentionally funny scenes.The screenplay appears to have been written by a one week old chimpanzee. One scene in particular that highlights this is when Behan and a group of friends attempt to escape. On their journey,they arrive at a beach.The first thing they decide to do is have a frolic in the sand,as all young men do when they arrive at a beach. But tragedy strikes,when two of his friends run over a land mine,and are killed. This scene is so badly directed,that it ends up being hilarious,as opposed to sad. This is one of the many scenes created by the script writer,to make the movie more Hollywood.

    If you are looking for comedy,this movie may just be the one for you,however,if you want a true account of the life of Brendan Behan,go read his book,and avoid this movie at all costs.
  • This movie is (VERY loosely) based on Brendan Behan's memoir "Borstal Boy". Unfortunately, they took much of what was good about the memoir, and got rid of it.

    I guess in a way it's understandable. The whole point of the book was the subtle changes going on in a boy's mind, and that's difficult to portray on screen. But the solution chosen by the filmmakers here (go for the cheap sentiment whenever possible as a substitute) didn't really work. The director tried so blatantly, so often, to force emotional moments that those same moments were robbed of their power.

    Couple that with several moments/characters that were flat out unbelievable (most notably Dale, especially as the film went on), and I was left disappointed. The story of the real Brendan Behan is infinitely more interesting than the fiction made up out of whole cloth for the screen.
  • Theo Robertson8 January 2003
    I was sitting in front of the TV flicking through the film channels trying to find a film I haven`t seen before : " Seen that . Watched that , that`s total crap " and grew more and more frustrated at trying to find a film I`d never seen before . The only reason I started watching BORSTAL BOY was it was the only movie on TV that night that I hadn`t seen and wasn`t too impressed when the TV guide described it as " An affecting coming of age drama about IRA saboteur Brendan Behan " so I was expecting another film about the peace loving pacifists of the IRA no doubt financed with money from the ailing British ( And spot the irony of that ) film industry , but I was pleasantly surprised by BORSTAL BOY . It`s quite a charming little film , very well written and acted by a largely unknown cast

    My only real problems with the film is that it perhaps tries a little too hard to be likeable . With the exception of Del none of the young crims come across as being violent criminals . Also I`m just not sure how " true " this true story is because I had the instinctive feeling that a few of the facts had been changed in order to give BORSTAL BOY a more dramatic impact , some of the friendships seemed unlikely and being assigned to HMS Prince Of Wales ! How unlucky is that ?

    But if you take the facts with a pinch of salt you`ll certainly like this film , especially if you found SCUM to be such a turn off due to its unrelenting violence . And keep an eye out for the names Lee Ingleby and Danny Dyer . You might be hearing a lot more of them in the future
  • raulfaust29 November 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    I started watching this movie knowing almost nothing about it. Once it began, it gave me the idea it would be a dramatic story about two enemies who turn out as friend in the end. The story is not that original or anything, but it kept me entertained, since I enjoy movies involving prison system and its consequences. However, the movie got into its climax and I couldn't identify what was its purpose; were Brendan and Milwall good friends or simply lovers? My complaint is that the movie doesn't choose if it's a story about friendship or romance, so you don't know what is clearly the message of the movie. In fact, you don't even know what are the real Brendan's feelings-- maybe even he doesn't know. The escaping scene is pure fun and a showing of young's seek for freedom, and we all can understand the young boys for doing that. Other than that, the theater scene is a little implausible, since I hardly doubt they'd have such materials to make a beautiful stage and outfit like that. So that's it, "Borstal Boy" is well acted and directed, but the story could (should) be more clear, in order to know what it is really trying to show. Good/average movie anyways.
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