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Boy A

Boy A

Director:John Crowley
Cast:Peter Mullan, Andrew Garfield, Siobhan Finneran, Alfie Owen
Release Date:2008

By Bret McCabe | Posted 9/17/2008

So much about director John Crowley's Boy A works so well that it's tempting to forgive its manufactured, melodramatic denouement. As a child, Eric (Alfie Owen) and a schoolmate commit a crime so heinous that they're tried anonymously in court and the British press. Fourteen years later "Boy A"--now named Jack (Andrew Garfield)--is quietly reintroduced into society, in a different town, with a different name, and, ideally, a different future. Such is what his caseworker Terry (Peter Mullan, still the Scots incarnation of Ed Harris' empathetic competence) keeps reminding him. And so Jack tries, working at a delivery service, making new friends, and even tentatively starting a relationship with Michelle (Katie Lyons). All of these experiences are true firsts for Jack, which Garfield, in a stunning performance, registers in his entire body: every day for Jack is a foal's first few steps, and Jack stumbles physically and emotionally before he can walk. Crowley's cross-cuts between Eric's steady descent to his crime and Jack's quotidian days to embroider this young man's troubled psyche into Jack's waking life, but as Boy moves with a grittily Lynne Ramsay-ian grace, you start to realize that it's going to have to conclude in a more pat, predestined ending. Too bad.

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