About a Boy

Directed by John Crowley, Boy A is a brutally soulful film that tells the tale of a young man trying to forge a new life after serving time for a murder committed as a boy. The film’s strengths are many: marvelous performances; a challenging script that makes seamless connections between issues of violence (domestic and societal) and failed social contracts (in the family, school, workplace, and pub); plus some scathing commentary on media fear-mongering. When the film begins, “Boy A” — Eric Wilson, a nationally notorious child murderer — is being released from a juvenile prison in Britain. Now an adult, Eric is introduced picking a new name, Jack Burridge, and prepping for life in a town far from the scene of his crime. (Alfie Owen plays the pre-teen Eric; Andrew Garfield plays the adult Jack.) At his new job, Jack’s shy, good-hearted demeanor — he’s childlike in many ways — quickly wins over his co-workers, and as his new relationships deepen, Jack is torn between the desire to reveal his past and the need to protect his secret. Crowley, his cast, and the script constantly reveal new layers to the characters, preventing simple labels like “hero” or “villain.” These people are cringingly human, and the film — refusing easy answers while leaving absolutely no question where it stands — is an unabashed bleeding-heart film, but a tough one.
Sept. 5-18, 2008

 
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