User Reviews (88)

  • aharmas12 August 2008
    An Emotional Roller-coaster
    I've been thinking for a while that after Hollywood stops trying to reinvent itself or more like cannibalizing itself by going back and remaking classics, mostly ruining classics, they should just look at the news, the really news, stop idolizing and picking on their own, and see what tragic or wonderful world, it can be. "Boy A" is a perfect example of what happens when the media gets a hold of a spectacular story, one that might be tragic or devastating, but it still offers enough drama to cast a spell on us. Write a good book about it ("In Cold Blood" comes to mind), adapt it into a couple of decent films, and you can certainly catch fire.

    "Boy A" explores an obscure case in America, but apparently a very famous one in England, telling the story of a released convict who might have more than a few problems adapting back to society. It is essential that his identity remain secret because the consequences can be horrendous for all parties involved.

    The audience's main concern at first appear to be whether the main character has been rehabilitated and is able to deal with his new freedom. Garfield's performance is so good, it brings to mind the vulnerability shown by Timothy Hutton in "Ordinary People", that of a bruised soul that is very strong but also quite close to an emotional collapse if not nurtured properly. Garfield's character is damaged from his early life to the abuse he suffers at the hand of his childhood friend, the one that eventually gets him in jail. It is not very clear how responsible he is for the crime that eventually incarcerated him, but what is clear is that he needs a lot of support, and any interference will be catastrophic.

    In the end, we know there has to be some type of revelation, and it is the degree of the pain that the revelation brings that we want to see and we dread all the time. We grow to like this young man. Maybe because he might not be very different from many in our world, maybe because he is another victim of a cold and fractured society. The film will open wounds in many who have been disappointed and hurt, and it will mostly teach a few people a lesson about what we can do to prevent any more tragedies like these from occurring again.

    It is an admirable achievement.
  • Howard Schumann18 January 2009
    Powerfully gripping
    The Christian author Lewis B. Smedes once said that, "to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." John Crowley's Boy A is a powerfully gripping film about what happens when we fail to forgive ourselves for wrongdoing and give society the opening to move in and assuage our guilt. Jack Burridge (Andrew Garfield) has been released from prison after serving fourteen years for a murder that he helped commit when he was ten years old, but the struggle to recover his life has just begun.

    Adapted by Mark O'Rowe from the novel by Jonathan Trigell, the story is a reminder of the notorious 1993 Jamie Bulger case when two ten-year-olds were convicted of murdering Jamie Bulger, aged two, although Trigell says that his inspiration for the book was a friend of his who served prison time as a juvenile and turned into "a lovely lad." In the Bulger case, the British media portrayed the two boys as evil savages, ignoring circumstances that might have compelled them to commit the act. Sadly, Jack's release is also trumpeted in the media with a scare headline about "evil coming of age" and a drawing of how he might look today.

    Known at their trial only as Boy A and Boy B, both Jack (whose given name was Eric Wilson) and his friend Phillip (Taylor Doherty) were incarcerated for the brutal murder of a young female classmate, yet the full details of the crime including what may or may not have been Jack's role are never fully explained and the surrounding circumstances revealed only in sporadic flashbacks. We learn that both boys had a childhood of poverty and neglect. Eric had an alcoholic father and a mother stricken with cancer and Philip was sexually abused by an older brother, yet Crowley never uses their circumstances to justify their crime.

    The film opens with Jack being assisted by his counselor, his uncle Terry (Peter Mullan), on his release from prison. Terry gives him a present of a pair of "Escape" brand sneakers and helps him to find a new job at a delivery service and obtain living accommodations with Kelly (Siobhan Finneran), a kindly woman who agrees to house him temporarily. As a cover, he tells his new boss and co-worker Chris (Shaun Evans) that he did three stints in prison for stealing cars when he was much younger. Jack makes a positive adjustment at work and falls for office secretary Michelle (Katie Lyons), known affectionately by her mates as 'The White Whale". Their relationship at first is awkward, especially when Jack is given Ecstasy at an office party and lets loose in a wild, spasmodic dance, and later, engages in a violent brawl while coming to the aid of a friend.

    Slowly Jack and Michelle find much in common and one of the loveliest scenes in the film is when they snap photos of each others while taking a bath together. As Jack begins to get his life together, he remains fully aware of the need to guard his secret and his anxiety that others will discover it is always evident. All the while, Jack is supported by Terry, and when the boy rescues the victim of a car accident to become a local hero, Terry calls him his "most successful achievement." Things get complicated, however, when Terry's estranged son (James Young) comes to live with him and begins to show resentment about his father's closeness to Jack. Eventually this entanglement will be the trigger for the realization of Jack's (and our) deepest fears.

    Boy A is a compassionate and disturbing film that won numerous BAFTA awards for acting, directing, editing, and cinematography, though it started out as a made for TV movie. As Jack, Andrew Garfield turns in a superb performance, allowing his face to reveal his vulnerability and his changing moods to reveal the tightrope on which he is walking. Though the film has moments of pathos, it is not without grace. We cling tenaciously to those moments of transcendence, sensing that they might be fleeting, but knowing that they will never be forgotten.
  • larry-4116 May 2008
    A master class in the art of film-making
    Few films wowed audiences at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival as much as John Crowley's "Boy A." Scipted by Mark O'Rowe from a Jonathan Trigell novel, "Boy A" is a story-driven mystery which is carried on the shoulders of newcomer Andrew Garfield, in a tour de force performance that dominates the film from opening title to closing credits.

    Jack Burridge is leaving prison after a 14-year sentence for a crime he committed as a child. His mentor Terry has been working to gain his release and help him transition into the new world in which he'll live and work under a new identity. It's up to Jack to determine who he wants to be, but it's up to those around him to determine whether or not he will be allowed to do so. It's that challenge which is at the heart of "Boy A." Andrew Garfield ("Doctor Who," "Lions for Lambs") is frighteningly brilliant as Jack. It's his movie to make or break, and this role is sure to be singled out as the launching pad for what is destined to be a notable career. The viewer sees a sweet, sensitive, puppy dog of a young man while his secret past indicates something completely different. We wrestle with that concept as he does himself, and it's an emotional, moving piece of work. As his counselor Terry, Peter Mullan ("Trainspotting," "Children of Men") is the father figure who provides a foundation for Terry's wandering existence. His attempts to keep Jack alive and well are both heartening and heartbreaking.

    "Boy A" is visually stunning. The interplay of light and shadow through the use of diffusion filters and silhouette gave me chills. The dramatic manipulation of white light is a seemingly simple device but cuts to the bone. Cinematographer Rob Hardy demonstrates true artistry with camera-work that is often a character in itself. A recurring visual theme using tunnels, alleyways, hallways, and bridges stands out even to the untrained eye. Paddy Cunneen's score makes it clear that this is, at its heart, a tale of intrigue.

    Told in flashback, the secrets of "Boy A" are revealed in bits and pieces. The reality of who Jack is becomes more powerful and painful as the film progresses. Garfield is so charismatic, and his Jack so incredibly sympathetic, that this film easily rises to the top of those screened at this year's festival. John Crowley's "Boy A" is a master class in the art of film-making.
  • Mis Behavin27 November 2007
    Made me cry like no other film
    Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this last night on Channel 4 and I honestly cannot believe just how much it has challenged my opinions on this highly emotive subject. I cried very hard for about 20 minutes after the end credits and I still cannot stop thinking about it. I almost wished I hadn't watched it as it has just challenged my way of thinking so much - although I suppose that is what films are supposed to do.

    The story revolves around Jack - formerly known as Eric - a child murderer released at the age of 24 after serving 14 years in prison for a crime he committed with his accomplice Philip at the age of 10. It follows his re-entry into the world, making friends and finding his way.

    Suffice to say Eric and Philip were two very neglected souls. Philip, we discover through a series of flashbacks, is suffering very severe sexual abuse at the hands of his older brother (and I just have to say that Taylor Doherty who played him is hopefully set for a very bright future - what an understated and convincing performance). Eric is neglected by his family, friendless, bullied and he clings onto his only friend in Philip - which I believe is probably why he goes along with the crime - for fear of letting down his one and only companion in the world.

    This has reinforced my opinion that children, including child murderers, are not born evil - they are shaped by their surroundings and their upbringing. It has changed my opinion of how they should be handled - they SHOULD be given a second chance. Jack was a lost soul who had played a part in the most heinous crime but he was desperately trying to turn his life around. It is hammered home that he is not evil when he saves the little girl from the car accident. He is living a haunted half life - 24 with the naivety of someone half his age. I so wanted him to build up a good life which I think was why the ending upset me so much. The whole film leads up to it and Andrew Garfield's superb performance just haunted me afterwards.

    To be honest - I don't think I will watch this film again as I just find it too upsetting - and that really is not like me (although I am pregnant and a bit hormonal at the moment) - but I think there are some future stars in this film, namely Andrew Garfield who played Jack and Taylor Doherty who played young Philip Craig.

    You really should watch this film
  • jim-31423 October 2008
    beautiful and bleak
    This movie hearkens back to the great working class British film dramas of the 1960s. Inspired, I believe, by an actual crime of about a decade ago, in which one child killed another child, the movie provocatively imagines the life of the killer many years afterward. At one point the protagonist is called a monster by a character who has never met him. I was reminded of the cover of a major news magazine at the time of the Columbine massacre, which featured a picture of the adolescent killers with the caption "monsters." I thought to myself that, however disturbed, these are still human beings more like than unlike the rest of us, and what does it say about the rest of us if we deny their humanity and refuse to look at the source of their disturbance? This is the very starting point of "Boy A" and the conclusions it reaches about "the rest of us" are bleak. This is a deeply, disturbingly sad movie. I found it intensely involving, and intensely moving. However, if you watch it, be prepared for a vision of humanity so dark that the most humane character in the story is a murderer.
  • gradyharp27 October 2008
    Living with the Sins of Childhood
    BOY A is a film that moves the audience in ways few other films do. Part of this is the subject matter, part the solid drama of the novel by Jonathan Trigell on which Mark O'Rowe based his brilliantly understated screenplay, part the sensitive direction by John Crowley, and in large part is the cast of remarkably fine actors who make this impossibly treacherous story credible.

    'Boy A' refers to Eric Wilson (Alfie Owen) who was jailed for a crime with his friend with whom he was associated as a youth. He has been released from prison and under the guidance of his 'parole officer/adviser' Terry (Peter Mullan), the now young adult is renamed Jack Burridge (Andrew Garfield) to protect him from the public who still remember the heinous crime of which he was convicted: Terry warns Jack to tell no one his real identity. Jack is assigned a new family and finds new friends in this strange world outside prison walls, but he is still haunted by the crime that changed his life. How Jack relates to his first female relationship and survives the bigotry of his classmates and city folk and finds a way to hold onto life despite his childhood 'sins' forms the development of this story.

    While the entire cast is excellent, Andrew Garfield's performance as the guilt ridden needy Eric/Jack is exemplary. There are many issues this film deals with in addition to the trauma of starting life over after imprisonment, issues that are universal in nature and that probe our psyches for answers that are never easily resolved here. It is a brilliant little film from Canada. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
  • scotchegg7811 October 2008
    A hard film to watch that rewards those that do
    We have all came across the stories and events of young children committing terrible crimes. They must be evil and need to be locked away as they are clearly not the same as you and me are they? Well what if they were the same, only they had a moment of madness, a moment that they did without thinking when they were young enough to know it was wrong but not too fully realise the full extent of their actions? This film does what all great films do, it educates and opens your eyes and mind to new on suggestions, in a sense it widens your experiences. If you really let it this film will get into your head and cause you to fight with your preconceived ideas on punishment for people or whether they deserve forgiveness.

    This is a great film, I really liked it but I felt uncomfortable during most of it because I knew deep down it was just asking me a question. I know what the lead character did is wrong, I know he was a child when he did it, but now you see him in a new life, touching other people's lives. The film does have an ending for you but this is not the point of the film. The really ending is in your head and it stays with you, "are you are willing to forgive someone like Jack?"
  • iain-1038 November 2007
    Challenging and provocative
    Warning: Spoilers
    With its controversial subject matter, Boy A, is likely to be restricted to an art-house release, which is a shame, as it is one of the more challenging and provocative independent British productions of this decade.

    With his role as the eponymous 'Boy A' – now known as Jack - Andrew Garfield establishes himself as a star for the future (and as 'Lions for Lambs' is likely to be released before 'Boy A', he may already be by the time it comes out). His subtle and moving role as the child murderer released after a youth spent in institutions, captures both the wide-eyed innocence and the dark and guilty conscience that Jack carries with him.

    When Jack is released from prison, with a necessary new identity, his counsellor Terry (Peter Mullan as a convincingly flawed mentor), believes so fully in his right to redemption, you can see Jack wanting and willing to believe him. But as the movie unfolds, Jack's doubts continue to arise, as through a series of episodes (drug use, a fight, trespassing) he finds it impossible to escape from his criminal past, despite a heroic rescue of a young girl trapped in a crashed car.

    This particular contradiction (saving a life, where he once took one) seems to offer salvation, and a relationship with a co-worker Michelle (Katie Lyons in her first film role) teaches him that the world can offer a life of love. But the jealousy of Terry's son for his father's attention eventually pulls Jack's world apart, and as he tried to flee the chasing hounds of the tabloid press, he has to make a choice about his new life.

    Never judgemental, John Crowley's direction delicately retells the original crime in the form of flashbacks, slowly unveiling how Jack reached this point. Ultimately, this is a film that questions our accepted beliefs about what is good or bad, about crime and punishment, innocence and guilt. 'Boy A' is a fine film that deserves a larger audience than it will probably ever receive.
  • Danko Rozic21 September 2008
    Go and see it, you won't regret
    This is a real gift. It's a gift in the times when Hollywood bombing us with an enormous amount of bad movies,and it's a gift of acting, specially the acting of Andrew Garfield. IMHO,the movie absolutely deserved every award and nomination. So,I give nine stars,not because we have another classic, but because it shows to Hollywood how to make a good movie.


    It is not necessary to write a bible about this movie. To much talking about a plot will make it less interesting for the spectator and that no one wants.
  • PaulLondon26 November 2007
    Challenging drama
    Warning: Spoilers
    This sensitive drama about a young man released from prison after serving time for his part in a brutal crime years earlier must rank as one of the best British films of the year. Boy A follows 'Jack' as he starts his new life, supported by his social worker/mentor (a superb Peter Mullan). His struggle to fit back in to society, whilst still living with the guilt of his unforgivable crime, is beautifully realised by Andrew Garfield, definitely an actor to watch in the future.

    The film is morally complex and challenges the viewer without being pointlessly provocative (resonances with the Bulger case will still make this painful viewing for many people). The character of Jack is, perhaps, a little too sympathetic; he is portrayed as a very tender, shy and naive man, almost still child-like, despite having spent many years in prison. Only occasionally do we see a violent side to Jack's nature and his part in the pivotal crime is not made explicit (though is all the more chilling because of this).

    This is a quality film on all counts, with the cast working well with a solid script and sensitive direction; indeed it's hard to see why this didn't get a UK cinema release as it stands head and shoulders above much of the clichéd dross churned out by the British film industry recently. This is a haunting, thought-provoking film that deserves a wide audience.
  • vladanalilic4 January 2009
    A Must See
    Lately there have been a lot of movies about real life situations.And most of them were good.But this one definitely jumps out from all the others. First of all,The story is unique.I truly don't think that this kind of story has been used before.It grab your attention from its beginning ti its end.Secondly,while watching this movie I have seen some of the greatest performances lately.Actors aren't well known but I am sure they will become soon if they keep it up like this.At moments I felt as if I were a part of this amazing story,and that is one of the greatest qualities a movie can have. All in all,this is a must see movie.At times it pictures joy,at times it pictures reality,at time it pictures pain but most of the time it pictures human behavior towards someone unusual,someone we aren't used to meeting every day.And finally it shows the great strength from the main character to overcome all the obstacles in his life,he accepts his reality and he learns to deal with it.It pictures human nature. So if you like touching movies,filled with lots of emotions,showing the life as it is,than this is a must see.And trust me - you won't regret it...
  • Liam Cullen2 April 2016
    A challenging perspective
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a film which forces you to think differently. Boy A completely shifts its focus from the typical media perspective and instead chooses to concentrate on the one(s) being vilified.

    Before watching Boy A, I reminded myself about the facts of the James Bulger case. It's painfully clear that this film was intended to force viewers to have a new perspective on the case and its perpetrators: Venables and Thompson. In both the film and the case, there are: two schoolboys skipping class and getting up to no good, an unspeakable act of sheer horror, and prosecution by both the judiciary and mainstream media. The most heartbreaking allusion that the film makes to the case, though, is in its use of the train tracks. The train tracks are where James Bulger, at only two years old, was sickeningly abused and ultimately killed by the two boys, depicted by the media at the time as Child A and Child B.

    Both Eric and Philip have very troubled backgrounds and as a result their morals and values have been entirely skewed. Eric, at least, seemed to lose his sense of knowing right from wrong the longer he was around Philip and subject to his brash, violent nature; the more exposed he was to Philip, the more detached he became from humanity.

    Was Eric a bad person? From everything we've seen, no: it seems as though an abusive father, a detached mother, an unsupportive and inadequate school system, and bullying all had a detrimental impact on the growth and development of this young boy. Eric did kill (or at least take part in the killing of) a schoolgirl, and took part in some other very violent acts too; however, this only occurred after he had been exposed to and influenced by Philip for some time. Jack, on the other hand, is one of the most friendly, caring, and vulnerable individuals you'll ever see on-screen - he is totally at odds with Eric. This juxtaposition is excellently handled by the director through the use of flashback to simultaneously introduce us to both Eric and Jack whilst distinguishing the two.

    Additionally, it must be noted that the schoolgirl whom Eric and Philip kill is not revealed to be entirely innocent, kind, or vulnerable. Instead, she's portrayed as an arrogant, rude, distasteful little girl. Her attire and well-spoken nature lead the audience to believe she's from a wealthy background, whereas Eric and Philip are the complete opposite. This makes it even more difficult to watch as we know that the schoolgirl is the victim, but ultimately so are Eric and Philip.

    A scene which I found especially perplexing was the one in which the pair of them catch a fish and Philip then proceeds to beat the fish within an inch of its life, only to toss it back into the water. He admits that he knows the fish won't survive, yet he's still chosen to release it back into the water rather than show it mercy. This speaks volumes for the way in which young offenders are handled in the justice system. Is rehabilitation truly effective? Can it have a beneficial impact on the offenders? Or by the time they're finally released back into society has the damage already been done too significant?

    The drawing we see at the end of the film by the little girl indicates that she sees Jack as a hero. This further reinforces the idea that it's all a matter of perspective. In a past life, Eric used his knife to kill a schoolgirl; but to this little girl, Jack is a hero who used his knife to save her. This stark contrast goes to show how much an individual can change, as Jack's mentor, Terry, identifies when he reflects on how far Jack has come since he met him all those years ago. This notion, then, seems to answer the questions raised earlier in the film as to whether or not rehabilitation is actually effective: we can see from Jack's behaviour and his progress that rehabilitation can and does work. Unfortunately, though, once someone has been broken into so many pieces and they've been put back together, it only takes the most gentle upset for it all to come crashing down again.

    In the end, we're led to believe that he jumped. Jack admits that, as Terry often told him, Eric is dead - in his past. But now that his past has been brought up again, it has consequently resulted in the destruction of Jack: his new identity. This leads him to a sense of hopelessness as he realises he's trapped between two worlds and they're collapsing against one another, pinning him in between until he shatters. This leaves us with a bleak message: we, the public, have ultimately caused Jack to take his own life. What makes this far more serious is that public intervention actually has resulted in the deaths of innocent people, such as Scott Bradley, who was wrongly identified as being Venables. As a result of his misidentification, he was harassed, vilified, and took his own life; an innocent man died at the hands of the public's persecution.

    If you enjoyed Boy A and the way it encouraged you to see from a different perspective, then I urge you to watch "The Dirties", which deals with bullying in schools and the consequences which can arise from neglecting to address it.

    All in all, Boy A is a highly thought-provoking and devastating film, which ask us to pause and reflect on our treatment of young offenders and consider that there may - and indeed likely is - more going on than that which is portrayed by the media. Only once we take a step back and contemplate our crucification of these children can we effectively pinpoint what causes such tragedies to occur and prevent them from happening ever again.

    RIP Jamie Bulger.
  • slake0924 October 2008
    Good but dark
    A young man is released from prison after being incarcerated since he was a child. His attempts to adjust to the outside world aren't always successful.

    This isn't a feel good movie about a struggle for redemption or the effects of rehabilitation. This is a dark, gritty and realistic view of how things could be for a person newly released after a horrible crime.

    There isn't a lot of graphic bloodshed; most of that is implied instead of being played for shock value. That's good; this movie doesn't need any more shock value than is already portrayed. You aren't particularly encouraged to sympathize with the ex-con, nor are you encouraged to condemn him. Instead the film makes you an objective observer to his trials and tribulations, his attempts to get into society with as little trouble as possible, the reactions of people who know and work with him.
  • bob the moo23 February 2008
    Powerful and challenging look at a relevant subject with impressive delivery across the board (SPOILERS)
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jack is a young convict who has finishes his sentence and is being released back into society under the guidance of mentor Terry. Having been in prison since he was a boy, the world of work, women and adult responsibilities are all new to him but Jack has a bigger challenge. His real name is Eric Wilson but he is better known as Boy A – one of two boys who murdered schoolgirl Angela Milton several years ago. While he tries to move on with his life, his secret both haunts him and sees him at risk of exposure to a public unable to forgive.

    Although it is increasingly famous for reality shows and trash, Channel 4 do still screen strong films on important or controversial subjects. Recently one such film was Boy A, which takes the fictional tale of a young man released from prison into a new identity to protect him from retribution. It is a delicate subject to say the least and it is certainly not one that we are used to considering from the point of view of the guilty party. So Crowley's film is indeed worth seeing, even if it is only so that the viewer can be forced to view Jack as a person and not as evil incarnate. Having said that though, nobody is saying that the act of murder should be forgiven as a childish mistake and indeed the film doesn't make it easy to accept his actions – the murder is not graphic but is disturbing and powerfully depicted and I did feel quite ill at it.

    Channel 4 did a similar (in style) film last year about a paedophile (I forget the name) but they concluded it the same way, with the suicide of the main character. It is a very tidy conclusion perhaps but here it fits as it seems like there is no other answer. The viewer is given the best overview possible but even still I found it challenging. It is clear that Jack is not the monster that he is painted as in the tabloids but then at the same time his actions are hard to take, even if the flashbacks do a good job of providing an understanding of how it occurred. The director and scriptwriter have a difficult job of bring off this complexity and they do well, both providing the tools to the cast to then deliver the goods.

    In this regard Andrew Garfield does very well with an assured and convincing performance. His hopes are touched with fear and he brings this out really well, fearful of attention and unsure of himself in a world that he has never experienced as an adult. It is a great performance that is a key part of making this material challenging in knowing where "right" is. Mullan provides famous support and he does have an interesting character but he always feels like he is on the sidelines, offering his name as much as his performance to the film. Lyons and Evans are more useful and are convincing as people – it is only at the very end where the script hands Lyons a rather clumsy final scene where she appears to struggle. Special mention also to the two boys who play Eric and Phillip; both are excellent with difficult dialogue and characters and they both nail it – which was important for the film.

    Overall then a suitably dark and challenging film that doesn't give the viewer an easy opinion on anything. The leaning is very much away from the stance of the Daily Mail ("hanging's too good for 'em") but still the film doesn't make it easy to totally forgive Jack. The delivery is strong across the board with particularly important and assured delivery from Garfield and the two boys in the flashback scenes.
  • Maccy Dee28 December 2008
    Keep Away
    Warning: Spoilers
    I would not recommend this movie to anyone. Since I've watched it I've been madly depressed and I can't stop thinking about it. I wouldn't want this feeling on anyone, not even an enemy. Sign of a wonderful movie yes, that's because every single actor and actress played their part to perfection and that doesn't come knocking on your door everyday.

    This movie points out a few significant things about jack and his family. Alcohol abuse, family issues, bad influence and the worst friend or enemy in the world.

    I for one believed the two boys who committed the murder of the toddler (in reality) deserved to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, but this movie is an eye opener. You get to see the other side of the story, it teaches you not to judge so harshly and react in moments of pain.

    I've seen many movies, real sad stories. I almost become the character when I'm watching particular movies like Boy A to understand them better, I feel every emotion and I've got to say this is one of the best movies of all time, but the feeling doesn't just go away, think it will stay with me for the rest of my life.
  • KissEnglishPasto28 July 2016
    Boy A Runs the Gauntlet to Z!
    .......................................................from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA., CALI, COLOMBIA and ORLANDO, FL

    BOY A also gets RIGHT up in your face…literally. This engrossing film treats you to a wide array of emotions and forces you come to grips with some very serious and highly complex issues…. How should society handle a murder when its perpetrators are only 11 or 12 years old?

    One of my most cherished and appreciated qualities in any film is just how intensely issues and images from the film continue to ricochet around in your brain… and how prolonged that process ends up being! Primarily based on this key factor, BOY A gets a resounding 10 Stars!

    What is hardest for me to comprehend, in relation to this film is, that despite having dominated the BAFTA awards not all that many years back and showing an impressive 7.7 IMDb rating, it seems a sure bet that it has found a relatively limited U.S. audience! Soembody explain that to me…"like I were a six-year-old!" This is hard to watch without tearing up at some moments. Yet, I am convinced that Director John Crowley never strived to that end, it is just that the subject matter is such that it provides quite a number of emotional gut punches!

    Owing to Andrew Garfield's recent turn as SPIDERMAN, hearing his name probably would not illicit a knee-jerk, "Wow! What a great dramatic actor!" But here, in a role relatively near the beginning of his On screen career, his portrayal of a 24 year old who is re-released into society after being institutionalized For half of his life is deliciously nuanced and astoundingly impacting! It's really hard to find anything NOT to like with this British masterpiece!


    Any comments, questions or observations, in English o en Español, are most welcome!
  • jaredmobarak1 January 2009
    Evil comes of age … Boy A
    Warning: Spoilers
    Centered around a young man, just released from prison for killing a young child—when he himself was only ten—the story shows how he deals with the guilt and the scrutiny of that event, attempting to build a new life as far away from the past as he can. With the help of a caseworker who has given him a new identity and history, Jack Burridge does his best to live life for the first time, to experience what it is to be happy. However, no matter how hard he tries to leave that defining moment behind, one can never forget the fact that while he may be able to start over again, the victim of his crime will never get that chance.

    The team of director John Crowley and writer Mark O'Rowe have adapted a novel into the cinematic world, using visuals to express what words needed to on the printed page. It all starts pretty straightforwardly as we are introduced to the players, and Jack begins his life and new job, meeting friends and learning about new technologies and whatever else he missed while in prison. However, once he sees a computer-generated photo of himself, aged from an old picture as a child, the façade he has tried so hard to build into his reality starts to fall apart. Seeing himself on the news makes it very hard to forget about his true identity, Eric Wilson, and flashes of memory creep into his consciousness. Crowley never hits us over the head with these glimpses into the past, but instead teases us with short cuts, Jack trying to shake the images from his mind, before finally playing the scene out. Even when they are shown in their entirety, one can never know if what's on screen actually happened or whether he has fabricated some of the details. It is an effective way to show the inner turmoil as the life around him falls apart and the one he left behind comes ever closer to the surface.

    It becomes a case of absolute irony that him saving a little girl from a car crash serves as the final nail in the coffin that is his ultimate discovery. A killer becoming a hero, a publicity photograph for his place of employment puts his image out for anyone to see, including people connected to those trying to help him, people who may feel the need for misguided revenge. Boy A truly comes into its own when Jack's identity is brought out into the open, but the journey to that point is by no means inferior to the frenetic emotional tailspin portrayed in the final half hour. When a friend is sucker-punched at a club, should he look the other way or involve himself in a fight that could only bring memories of the bullying and beatings he received as a child? When a woman opens her heart to love him, should he feel guilty that she is in love with a person that doesn't exist, with a killer? That first date at Michelle's house is a devastating scene, showing Jack naked, literally and figuratively, vulnerable and completely unaccustomed to what love could be.

    While the storytelling delivers a powerful tale, it is the acting that brings those words and events to light. Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Jack Burridge, awkward and shy, reconciling his past with his future. When you see his childhood in flashbacks and realize the pain and suffering he was put through, it is tough to argue why he would befriend someone as troubled and unpredictable as Philip Craig. Here is someone that finally makes him feel a part of something, wouldn't you do all you could to keep that alive? It's a pretty harrowing scene when we finally are able to see how the murder went down. It doesn't show anything as far as definitive proof that young Eric was an active participant, but you can imagine from what is seen that he didn't stop it. He was a child then, and in many ways a child still, and Garfield portrays that perfectly.

    I also really liked Katie Lyons' Michelle, a pretty and confident girl that shows Jack what could be in the future, that perhaps he really isn't a monster after all. Shaun Evans was great as Chris too, coworker and friend. He played the role as a fun guy, someone that could cause trouble, but in an innocent way. Not angered when he gives Jack ecstasy to his dismay, forgetting his friend is on parole, and trying to help whenever is possible, Chris is a character that you believe would forgive Jack for his past, if he had the time to do so. It is the always top-notch Peter Mullan that ends up stealing many scenes, though. As Jack's caseworker Terry, he is there at every turn, a surrogate father for the boy and the strongest cheerleader he has. His part in the uncovering of his identity is absolutely tragic, and his final scene in his car all the more heartbreaking as a result.

    Boy A is a film that will stick with you once it ends. With a conclusion as powerful as any other this year, watching may be tough to endure, but you will understand why it all must end how it does. Jack Burridge was a real person, despite the past he would have to live with. As Terry said at the start, Eric Wilson was dead. That boy who murdered a classmate no longer existed, but was replaced by a young man out of jail for car theft, a man looking to rebuild his life. Orchestrated to perfection, Crowley and O'Rowe conclude the film with the reactions of those who grew to love Jack, whether the goodbyes are real or imagined, they are never false.
  • Baptiste .9 May 2009
    What a movie!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Just Staggering.

    When you first watch the trailer of Boy A and read its synopsis, you might expect a kind of sanctimonious movie but once you've seen it all the way through, you realize that beyond this first aspect, it is much more of a wrenching movie that gets under your skin. Andrew Garfield's amazing performance as Jack, the main character, is one of the reasons why this movie is a masterpiece. I think that he really managed to figure out what someone like Jack feels like and to transmit that feeling to the audience. He is just stunning and although I haven't seen the other movies he's played in, I guess we could say that he's at the top of his game in this one since his acting could not have been any better. He successfully tried to express happiness, naivety, love, hope and desperateness without overacting and we all know that in that kind of role, it's really easy to slip to something overplayed that turns the character's truthful sadness into something you make fun of. Here though, he is truly endearing and we are more than just witnesses. We're most likely to put ourselves in Jack's shoes and this way, we get the opportunity to share his feelings and concerns. That is probably why this movie will stay etched in your memory for quite a long time. It really moves you and gets under your skin. I doubt anyone would ever forget about that poor and sympathetic Jack after having seen the movie. Some supporting stories appeared sort of useless to me though. For instance, I didn't really understand why Terry and his son's story was put forward once or twice whereas the link to the main story is too slight to make it truly interesting. It could have been so if it had been put forward more throughout the movie. At the beginning, we expect Jack to be successfully released back into society and we really believe in the kind of fairy tale we think is about to happen. Imagine our astonishment when we find out that his past catches him up through a heroic action and leads him to death! Our belief in the thorny topic of redemption in this world is being challenged and we get a rather negative portrait of society. The notion of Past is also questioned and the movie makes you think about whether we can actually forget our past and move on with our life despite our misdeeds, or if our past and our present are always eventually brought back together and come down to one same thing. Boy A is probably one of the best movies I've ever seen and I will remember Andrew Garfield's for a long time. It definitely is a thoughtful movie so if you do not feel like watching that kind of movie, well don't! It is a must-see to me though, that's for sure.

  • waxyjo26 February 2016
    An important message
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'm not entirely sure why some have said this film has stayed with them in a depressing way. Perhaps it is easier for some to have cut and dried, black and white views about certain things.

    Life of course never fits into those type of parameters; which have been paved by a non-thinking 'justice' system and continued by a pack mentality.

    This film challenges generalisations; keeps you on the edge of your seat with no clue of what will unfold next. It stays away from clichés and works only on allowing us into the depths of this main character's psyche.

    It is a rare treat to watch a film which neither lies to us, nor makes judgments. We simply see a snapshot of a young man's life, interlaced with his history.

    There are plenty of disturbing scenes and I did cry a lot watching this film. Mostly the bits which show such severe neglect of the young boys. Unfortunately this kind of neglect IS a reality in our society and that's one of the reasons this film is important. There are very very few human beings who randomly decide to be violent (psychopaths - humans who are unable to experience empathy, being probably the only example of such). Almost ALL violent behaviour stems from abuse and is a learned/copied response.

    The only antidote is love. I have seen a webpost which may or may not be accurate but it states that there is a tribe in Africa who respond to negative behaviour with love only. This is the only response which could work. Forgiveness IS the only way and I feel this film really conveys that message. It leads us to have compassion for a man who was severely abused as a child and who may or may not have contributed to the murder of another child. We're never actually told if he did hurt the girl but the point isn't whether or not he did the point is that we can see that he never would NOW, that it's not in his nature to inflict pain. Like his social worker says; this young man deserves happiness and anybody watching the film will be compelled to agree.

    There is no shame in feeling love for a vulnerable, abused human being. We should never be concerned to feel compassion or care for another. An abused dog which bites will be forgiven by most and a human should be given the same chance.

    A wonderful film. Oh and exemplary acting throughout from all. I particularly loved the social worker and his story also. He was a beautiful, rich character.

    Bravo to the film makers for championing the underdog and taking on such a sensitive and controversial subject.

    {from a thinker who loathes the media for the needless negativity it propagates}
  • vlad_the_implier9 December 2010
    emotionally dishonest, missed masterpiece
    Warning: Spoilers
    The story in a few words: 24-years old Eric Wilson gets a second chance (and a new identity as Jack Burridge) after serving 14 years for a crime he committed as a kid. Turns out he's a child-murderer, and that revelation, along with his own sense of guilt, ends up ruining whatever future he might still have had at that point.

    In my humble opinion this film could have been a masterpiece, maybe a classic even. The actors give some quite damn convincing performances, the imagery and score really help set the right mood, and the narrative flow, although a bit awkward, doesn't really get in the way of enjoying the film for all the good that it has to offer.

    What absolutely ruins this film for me however, is that it tries way too hard to be an "eye-opener", and knowingly plays with your feelings so as to trick you into believing that *you* are, in fact, the monster. It's like the whole film, from beginning to end, just keeps whispering in your ear "hey, you, remember those two little bastards who abducted, tortured and murdered the 2-year old child? oh, remember that feeling of righteous hatred, the deep repulsion you felt back then? well guess what, you insensitive jerk? you were too quick to judge! see, the kids were actually victims themselves, and with that judgmental attitude of yours you're only helping perpetrate the injustice", all the while presenting you with a protagonist who's surprisingly easy to sympathise with - probably because he's nothing like the actual person that inspired him.

    It's bad enough when a film tries to spoon-feed you a moral, but "Boy A" takes it a step further, because it does so through means of manipulation and deception, keeping you hostage of that very same conscience you're not supposed to have.
  • mr_popcorn3 October 2008
    Boy A
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jack Burridge: "I ain't that boy..." Having been institutionalized for most of his life, Jack (Andrew Garfield) is finally released from prison at the age of 24. He and another boy murdered a child when they themselves were children. The film follows Jack's attempts to readjust to the world outside of confinement and restart a life which never really got going.

    Under the fatherly mentoring of Terry (Peter Mullan), his parole contact and social worker, he experiences a coming of age, which would normally have happened years ago. Forces from the past are constantly upon him. As we learn more about the events leading up to the crime which has ruined so many lives, there is an increasing sense of suspense, intrigue and ultimately doom: the tabloid press and Terry's real son are not going to let things lie.

    Definitely one of the best films I've seen this year. This came as a shock to me because I have never heard of this film beforehand. But because of the buzz that's been circling around this film I decided to buy me a copy of this one and man, was I surprised. This film tackles the idea of second chances and starting life all over.

    Boy A is visually stunning. The acting is astounding, credit goes to up and coming talent Andrew Garfield and the raw emotion that he invested in the character. It was very convincing and all the while, heart breaking. He carries the film from start to end and you can't help but notice his presence from the get-go.

    It just goes to show that you don't need big explosions and loud, noisy scenes to make an excellent movie. With all the rubbish Hollywood's been releasing these days, its nice to see films like these just circling around, silently building its audience fan base and through the word of mouth, it spreads and it spreads. Boy A is highly recommended.
  • DICK STEEL6 September 2008
    A Nutshell Review: Boy A
    Warning: Spoilers
    I guess this subject had already been explored a number of times recently - how convicted criminals, upon release from their jail term, attempt to re-integrate themselves back into society. With Little Children and The Woodsman, we essentially have pedophiles who were released and had to deal with deep rooted prejudice and non-forgiveness in the community they reside in. But what if this criminal is a killer? Based on the novel by Jonathan Trigell, "Boy A" refers to the unnamed boy who cannot be positively identified during the trial as he's a minor. After serving significant time behind bars, we see him being released from prison, and working with his counsellor Terry (Peter Mullan), he adopts a new identity as Jack Burridge (Andrew Garfield). This is not only for an opportunity to start life afresh with a totally new and made up background, but to serve as a mask of protection against retributive attacks by the case sympathizers, or by the family members who may be out for their own brand of justice served.

    But of course this is no action movie, so scrap those thoughts of having a man on the run, with contract killers on the loose. What we have here instead is a touching exploration of a teenager's despair at trying to recalibrate his life after the chilling crime committed at an age where he was influenced by best pal Philip Craig (Taylor Doherty). And here's where Andrew Garfield's ability got tested to the max, where he constantly has to live a lie, and finds it extremely hard to work at, and obtain the trust of others, always having to deal with the niggling feeling that he's not being totally honest, and with romance in the picture with Michelle (Katie Lyons), it just complicates things. Fate allows him to redeem himself, but one wonders if that is enough, and whether one good deed can free oneself from the sins of the past.

    Garfield's charismatic presence will engage you from the get go as he carries the movie through from start right up until the end, and kudos too to the editing and direction set to weave what's essentially two story arcs seamlessly together, with the current timeline, and one which looked at the mysterious past where events were presented a little bit at a time. We see how the two young boys evolve over time in their spiral downwards in morality, and even so the dastardly crime doesn't get shown verbatim, but only through a fishing reference, which will cause the audience to question how culpable Jack was with his involvement in the crime.

    Running parallel to Jack's story is that of Terry the counsellor was well, being estranged from his wife, and having to address the disappointment he has with his own son. It's not hard to see how close he is to Jack, and how under his care or lackof, would develop inside each boy as the story went along. And this character study also extended to various supporting characters as well, especially one whose promise to another seem to ring hollow the minute you hear it, which just makes it a little bit more heart-wrenching when you see Jack's nonchalant response, as if pre-emptive, and in the know.

    So, yellow ribbon project? I suppose the reality of it is that it still boiled down to the crime itself, and just how tolerant society is toward it in a case by case basis. Don't let this gripping drama slip you by, it's powerful stuff that will continue to pose questions for discussion way after the end credits roll.
  • Chris Knipp12 August 2008
    Coming of age between good and evil
    Warning: Spoilers
    Andrew Garfield, an English actor born in LA, has the reedy boyish looks of the young Tony Perkins but without Perkins' edge of craziness. He stood out in the otherwise lackluster 'Lions for Lambs.' As the protagonist of this gritty new movie, Garfield plays a tough role compellingly, grabbing our sympathies even though the guy he plays has a terrible past. His character was complicit in the murder of a young girl at the age of eleven, and has just gotten out after many years of detention. In the opening scenes, Terry (the excellent Peter Mullen), his case-worker and mentor, helps him settle in the north of England, in Manchester, with a job and a new name. He was Eric Mullen. He becomes Jack Burridge. Garfield's sudden bashful smiles in the intense early scenes with Mullen make "Jack" appear to be a remarkably innocent young man--eager to make good.

    These scenes between Garfield and Mullen establish sympathy for Jack as a painfully tentative, sensitive, and threatened young man and set a hushed, serious tone. Jack's overwhelmed by Terry's gift of a new pair of appropriately-named Nike "Escapes," and he doesn't even know how to order a meal at a diner. He's haunted by nightmares and his new room is frighteningly stark. Nonetheless things go unbelievably well for Jack pretty quickly with the job and Michelle. The film puts us in his corner.

    Finding a roadside accident while making a delivery with a coworker in his new job, Jack rescues a young girl--dramatically showing off his positive side. He's a hero. It's good publicity for the company too.

    But this good deed is dangerous because it gets Jack's picture in the papers. Even though he was tried for his crime anonymously as "Boy A" and in the eyes of the state has been rehabilitated, there are people out there who know Eric Mullen has been released and want to hunt him down. His boss, who's aware he was in prison but not what for, has assured him on his first day at work that everybody deserves a second chance. But the truth is, for some crimes, people throw that rule away. No second chances for what the tabloids call a "monster." The mainstream media seems to altogether reject this young man's right to a new identity. Not everyone believes in rehabilitation.

    Besides which Jack must struggle to hide his complete ignorance of non-institutional life. All at once he must learn to work an ordinary job, hang out with coworkers and party with them on the weekend; and hardest of all, when a woman at work called Michelle (Katie Lyons) takes an immediate liking to him, he must handle dating, sex, and a serious relationship.

    Meanwhile periodic flashbacks pull us back to Eric's dark early years. His abusive father swills whiskey in front of the TV and his mother is withdrawn, dying of breast cancer upstairs. He's shy withdrawn and, seeking comfort from the bullies around school who hound him, he becomes friends with the nasty, more confident Phillip (Taylor Doherty), a kid long sexually abused by his own brother, who teaches Eric petty thievery. While Jack's getting closer to Michelle, we're getting closer to the young Eric, though the actual crime he and Philip committed isn't shown till near the film's end.

    The scenes with Michelle navigate a nice line between the matter of fact and the achingly sincere as in early encounters Jack goes too far, can't perform, and then is intensely excited. Lyons conveys Michelle's experience along with her appreciation of Jack's naive warmth and sweetness. Again he is overwhelmed when she gives him a nice present. Then when they both declare their love, he aches to tell her the truth about himself. It seems a betrayal not to. But Terry, whom Jack calls whenever he's in need of advice, assures him he cannot.

    Crowley, who won a Tony for his direction of Martin McDonagh's brilliant play The Pillowman, gets uniformly fine performances from the cast and Rob Hardy does fine, atmospheric camera-work that conveys a sense of the gritty north that may recall Corbijn's 'Control.'

    The film is well edited but may seem to move too fast. As was true of native Irishman Crowley's Dublin film Intermission, the dialog is hard to follow at times--for an American anyway. Some plot elements, such as the highway rescue, and Terry's no-account son who becomes a contrast to Jack, are a little obvious. 'Boy A' becomes a bit of a thriller at the end and its direction feels rather deterministic. The film isn't meant to be about action but states of mind and degrees of moral certainty. Luckily the acting feels so immediate that we're not left with any sense of being manipulated. Though this hero comes from a darker place, we're firmly in Ken Loach territory, and the able Mullen in fact has worked well for Loach himself.

    This quietly powerful English film presents serious moral and practical issues. If a criminal has served his time, does he deserve a new life? How can he achieve that anyway? In a small country like England, it's not easy to hide. Distances may not be long enough to outrun one's past. To what emotional lengths must one go to be safe under such circumstances? At 24, is a full life forever to be denied because of an act at the age of 11? Mark O'Rowe's screenplay, adapted from Jonathan Tribell's 2004 novel--itself loosely based on the experiences of Mary Bell and the Bulger killers--can't altogether sidestep the source book's manipulativeness. But what it can do in compensation is present splendid performances and a realistic feel that leave viewers troubled and pensive rather than brainwashing them.

    Garfield delivers a breakout performance and he's already received a BAFTA award for it. He deserves to be remembered when other awards are given out this year, and we're sure to be seeing more of him.
  • MetroMike29 July 2008
    Extraordinarily Powerful
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is astounding. I was mesmerized throughout, and the performances are so rich that I'll have to see it again to fully appreciate it.

    Only the last scene between Jack and his former girlfriend seemed somewhat forced, and perhaps it was added lest the bleakness of the ending be unbearable. But when Jack goes to his favorite Brighton pier to commit suicide after he's been exposed as a child murderer and his new life has disintegrated, it's extremely improbable that on the same pier he'd encounter the girlfriend who dropped him after that exposure, and even more improbable that he'd go ahead and commit suicide after he learned that she still had feelings for him and seemed to be reconsidering their relationship. But I can find no other flaws in this remarkable film, probably the best I've seen this year.
  • DarthVoorhees7 November 2010
    Interesting concept but it really doesn't go anywhere
    Warning: Spoilers
    'Boy A' is a missed opportunity and that's all there is to say about it. The film has an intriguing beginning but it has no end or meat to this story. It's brave enough to ask questions but it isn't brave enough to really delve into a search for answers. It's brave enough to propose a brilliant character study but it's far too scared to really begin to scratch the surface of the character it proposes.

    It is no secret that 'Boy A' is inspired by the James Bulger murder case. The horrific story of two ten year olds murdering a 2 year old baby. The film is brave enough to begin to dramatize this but it's far too scared to acknowledge it. Andrew Garfield stars as Jack Burridge who used to be known as Eric Wilson, and he's the most cuddly misunderstood child murderer imaginable. He was led on by the treachery of others and grimaces at the sociopath warning signs of his buddy Phil. We are lead to believe through the flashbacks that little Eric truly wasn't violent and he merely found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. Phil is so over the top in his sociopath warning signs that we are lead to believe he is a mini-Manson. What does this do? Well for starters it ruins whatever chance this film had at what it seemed to initially wanted to do. Wouldn't this story of guilt, sin, and redemption be so much better if Eric actually was guilty? What if during the murder he actually was complicit in a grave crime? What if he truly was violent? What if in this partnership there actually was a mutual tendency towards violence? Eric Wilson wasn't a bad kid, he merely had a bad friend. I wanted the film to be braver. I wanted Eric to truly have a monster within him that he had to face. Instead he is facing his past rather than his inner demons. This is well and good but it isn't what the film proposes.

    Garfield's performance lacks any restraint to it and so he engages in excess in a subtle way. His shyness is surprisingly blatant. We look at Garfield as if he is someone shouting out "Look at me but don't acknowledge my presence" I think Garfield is a decent actor but he's been given a weak character. He simply doesn't have anywhere interesting to bring this character. The film spends much of it's time building up to the secrets falling out of the bag. When this happens there isn't any conflict. Eric mainly walks around in a fog and acts on his first horrible impulse. The film doesn't give Eric the moment where he confronts his demons. The film is merely about him avoiding them and that is sufficiently disappointing.

    The film has some decent performances. I loved Katie Lyons as Michelle but the character is wasted. Above anything else we want Eric to face Michelle and beg her for forgiveness and the film doesn't have the courtesy to give us this moment. Instead we get an idealized fantasy in Eric's mind and so Lyon's brilliant performance is completely wasted. Peter Mullan's Terry is also a good character and has a dilemma. His son Zeb is a horrible drunk and he identifies with Eric as his son. He doesn't make a choice despite Zeb doing something horrible.

    This film could have been really special but it doesn't have the guts to really delve into it's rich propositions.
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