Rated: R for language, sexuality, some disturbing content and brief drug use Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 23, 2008 Released by: LTD
Boy A is an intriguing, emotional picture similar to The Woodsman, but different in approach. This Scottish-based drama challenges an audience to see the possibilities in existing in a real, often cruel world.
Here, under John Crowley's deft helming, the titular character has a new lease on life at the age of 24 as Jack (Andrew Garfield of Lions for Lambs) after imprisoned for most of his childhood and early adulthood.
Jack's remanded under the watch of case worker Terry (Peter Mullan of Children of Men) who helps him land work in an Edinburgh delivery firm.
The young man will get chummy with a co-worker (Shaun Evans) and date one of the secretaries, Michelle, (Katie Lyons) as he assmilates himself into adult life.
Terry is concerned about Jack's secret being leaked with the media denoting him as "pure evil".
Crowley (Intermission) works quite well from Mark O'Rowe's adapted screenplay to recall Jack's past in snippets that austerely coalesce a lurid situation. In letting one slowly digest the exposition, one sees where Jack is now, relative to what led him to a long incarceration. The work with the lenser sharply filters the lighting to symbolize with tunneling effect what awaits a once impressionable boy now trying to begin his life anew.
A crackling vigilantism into societal justice is juxtaposed engagingly with the arc of Jack's moral ambiguity. It's quite a credit to the actors who demand attention from their crystal-clear presentation that puts early audience response into perspective.
The internalization of Jack is evinced with much prowess by newcomer Garfield as the tentative exterior lets something vivid out through his relations with Terry and new friends, especially on an intimate level with Michelle.
Boy A has the means to push one right to the edge of compassion with Terry, an efficient Mullan, offering attention at the expression of his own insecure son (James Young). Jack's "silent" gallantry might open himself to something seemingly barbaric, and in reaching out he may not be able to truly be open to those who are closest to him. If this ironically, wrenching tale feels a bit manipulative towards penal reform, it brays us with pride and prejudice toward someone in need of reconciliation.