Boy A : The Movie
This was the official website for the 2007 indie film, Boy A. The content below is from the site's 2007 archived pages and other outside resources.
Andrew Garfield portrays Eric Wilson, Boy A. The film commences when Eric is released from either a secure unit or prison under the name Jack Burridge. His past is told through flashbacks.
Eric Wilson befriends Philip Craig, who is a troublemaker and rescues him from a group of bullies. It is later disclosed that Philip is the victim of rape perpetrated by his older brother. Philip gets into an argument with a girl from their school who comes across the two boys loitering in a park. She criticizes them and refers to them as "scum" when she witnesses Philip vandalising a park sign with a Stanley knife. Philip approaches her and starts slashing at her forearms with the knife. He grabs the girl and drags her under a bridge. When Philip drops the knife, Eric picks it up, and follows them under the bridge. The girl is killed, although the film shows neither who kills her nor how.
Eric (dubbed as Boy A during the trial) and Philip are remanded into custody at secure units. Philip ends up dead, assumed to be suicide, but Eric believes that he may have been killed by youth offenders. Eric is later released and is guided by rehabilitation worker Terry (Peter Mullan). Eric, shy and eager to be a good citizen again, builds up a new life under the name Jack Burridge. He finds a job, befriends his colleague Chris (Shaun Evans), falls in love with the office girl, Michelle (Katie Lyons), and rescues a little girl who would otherwise have died after a car crash. An article in a local newspaper portrays him as a hero and includes a picture of both boys in the story. Eric wants to be honest with Michelle and reveal his past, but Terry urges him not to do so because it is too dangerous. Terry is afraid that people may attack Eric because there is a reward of £20,000 for finding him. Terry argues that it is not dishonest because "Eric is history and Jack is a new person".
The rehabilitation worker is less satisfied with his own son. The son discovers Eric's true identity from newspaper articles about him being released, his new role as the hero and information he looks up without permission on his father's computer. Out of jealousy, he reveals this to the public and as a result, Eric loses his job and his best friend Chris distances himself from him. Michelle goes missing, and people suspect that Eric is somehow involved, though it is later revealed she has sequestered herself at home, devastated about the revelation that Jack is actually Eric.
Eric repeatedly tries to phone Terry but gets his voicemail. He flees from his home to avoid reporters and travels to Blackpool. There he meets Michelle, who tells him she was not the one who revealed his past and would have eventually understood if he told her the truth, and then leaves. After saying farewell messages in voicemails to Terry and Chris, the film concludes with Eric standing over the edge of a pier.
- Andrew Garfield as Jack Burridge
- Peter Mullan as Terry
- Siobhan Finneran as Kelly
- Alfie Owen as Eric Wilson
- Victoria Brazier as Teacher
- Skye Bennett as Angela
- Katie Lyons as Michelle
- Taylor Doherty as Phillip Craig
- Shaun Evans as Chris
- Anthony Lewis as Steve
- Madeleine Rakic-Platt as Schoolgirl
- Josef Altin as Bully
- Jeremy Swift as Dave
- Helen Wilding as Carol
- Jessica Mullins as Catherine Thompson
Tomatometer: CRITICS 88% | AUDIENCE 88%
September 5, 2008
Christy DeSmith Minneapolis Star Tribune Top Critic
When we first meet Jack Burridge, an unworldly, twentysomething Brit, it looks as though he's entering a witness protection program. His caseworker, Terry (Peter Mullan), drives him to a small town where, as we understand it, he will start anew.
But a series of artfully layered flashbacks leaves a trail of clues for audience members who haven't read the book by Jonathan Trigell on which the film is based. As it happens, even the naive, seemingly dimwitted Jack has a skeleton in his closet: He helped murder a girl long ago, when he was only a schoolboy.
While his mother was dying of breast cancer and his neglectful father lacked interest in the scrapes and bruises he suffered at the hands of bullies, the impressionable child took up with a menacing new friend named Philip (played remarkably by young Taylor Doherty), a boy with the word "wicked" practically written on his face -- the snarling upper lip, the icy eyes framed by heavy eyelids.
The film is rich with other subtle expressions. In particular, Andrew Garfield's portrayal of Jack as a young adult -- by now he's a tense, twitching man-child who regards people very gingerly -- taps a deep, dark reservoir of sentiment. Even his speech patterns are anguished, with many false starts, long pauses and nervous smiles whenever he is asked the simplest of questions.
Director John Crowley, a veteran Irish theater director now working in film, is deliberate with every last element of his film. For starters, he demonstrates unusual sensitivity to the thuds and bumps of human bodies moving through space. He doesn't muddy the soundscape with cloying music -- nothing more than the occasional squall of strings or woodwinds. As a consequence, the audience is treated to the eerie splat of a dripping faucet, the suspenseful creak of a footstep on floorboards, even the smack of a wet, sticky kiss.
Images are painted with beiges and browns and, whenever possible, shot with hot, natural light. When a scene takes place inside a home and office, the white walls and wood paneling are always uncluttered by paintings or portraits. Crowley has effectively stripped the film's modern setting to its emotional core.
★★★ out of 4 stars
Rated: R, language, sexuality, disturbing content and brief drug use.
It's refreshing to see a full-figured woman sexualized and physically appreciated in the way Crowley portrays Jack's eventual girlfriend, Michelle (Katie Lyons). At first, she's presented as smart, impetuous and attractive; she's photographed in manners that flatter her soft, pretty face. But, sadly, even Michelle succumbs to the fate suffered by so many fictional women: By the end of the movie, she's nothing more than a sweet, self-sacrificing girlfriend who exists for the sole purpose of redeeming the male protagonist.
Nevertheless, the film is visually and aurally stunning with a strong, well-threaded narrative -- not to mention a sensitive character study of Jack. It's a patient, natural and very lovely meditation on vulnerability and the relative bounds of recovery, redemption and forgiveness. The audience is left hypnotized.