Monday, July 11, 2011

Movie Mondays: Boy A

If you ever plan on seeing the flick Boy A, then please leave this page ASAP. This post will contain spoilers and I am giving you fair warning.

If you follow this blog at all, you probably know that I love movies. I have been cinema-obsessed ever since I was a kid. To that fact, every year I see probably 2-3 movies that just completely knock me on my a good way. Previous films that have done so include Closer, Match Point, The Town, and even one of the last flicks I talked about on here, Fish Tank.

Often (though not always) the films are British and have a generally bleak plot or outcome. I guess that is why Netflix suggested I watch Boy A a couple weeks ago. Oh, Netflix, you get me.

Boy A is the story of a young man (he's 24) who we see being released from a prison to be under the watchful eye of a man who has worked as his social worker and pseudo-father figure. We know he has done something bad and in flashbacks you will find out that when he was just a boy, living a sad life in a loveless household, he befriended another boy who had also lived through some terrible things. The other boy has a seriously violent temper that we first see when he helps Boy A stand up to some bullies who always pick on him. While we almost root for the boys in that case, another scenario occurs that is not one that will sit well with the audience. The two boys are arrested for the murder of a female classmate and though you are shown the beginning of the altercation, it is never clear just how big of a roll Boy A played in the murder. Yes. Heavy stuff.

Upon his release, he is given a new identity, as there are bounties out on his head, because though he is trying to forget the past, the rest of England cannot. They still believe he is a cold blooded murderer and put him on newspapers talking about Evil coming of age and whatnot. It is quite a topical movie, both with the Casey Anthony trial (not the same idea, but the whole question of what she will do now) and the News of the World scandal in England.

Andrew Garfield of The Social Network is just amazing in the title role. He conveys such an awesomely spot on awkward tension of a man who is trying to forget his past and create a future with a new job, friends, and a girlfriend. He lives in constant fear of being found out and has a constant longing to tell the new people in his life about his horrific past, but knows he cannot. This guy is just an amazing actor. I had seen him act well in The Social Network and the too-bleak-even-for-me first film in the Red Riding Trilogy, but wow, this is a whole other level. I can't praise the guy enough. He seems to have the elusive three part quality of good looks, great acting ability, and a general likeability.

The scenes he has with the new girlfriend are a bit like looking at puppy love in that he has never been in love or had the chance to while he was incarcerated. This scene, where they say they love each other for the first time, is unbelievably romantic for a movie that has such a heavy feel(but trust me, it is one of the few reprieves):

Several things happen over the course of the movie and a moment of heroism becomes a bit of a liability when Jack (his new name) is pictured for a local news report after saving a young girl in a car crash. Redemption? Not quite. I won't give the entire movie away, but jealousy over a relationship he has formed with one of the other characters (and maybe not the one you are thinking) leads to the big reveal of his identity and the conclusion, though a bit rushed, is one you probably saw coming before you even pressed play.

I want to recommend this movie, but I am not sure I can. It is utterly depressing. There are moments of hope, but it is truly a bleak, realistic look at the life of an ex-con, even if he was a 10 year old convict. If you want to see a masterclass in acting (both by Garfield and the rest of cast) then yes, you should watch it. If you want to see a movie that makes you question society and why do some people get a second chance, while others don't or how do you punish a child who commits a heinous crime, then see this movie. Boy A is still on my mind, nearly two weeks later.


jhitomi said...

I'm also a fan of bleak British movies. I'll put this in my Netflix queue. Jenn have you seen Another Year? The actress blew me away.

Jenn said...

No, I haven't. Just added it to my queue!