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Boy A (2007)
Unfortunately I must get this out of the way or it may very well consume my review; my complete bias that is. I first saw Andrew Garfield on-screen in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Of which it didn’t take long for me to explore what else he had been in and wonder why I hadn’t seen him before. Though he’s relatively new in the game and I will be forced to wait for his better roles, having not yet received, all in due time. He had a small role as Tom in the show Sugar Rush which he was quite funny in and surprisingly, not too bad of a show to sit through. Though it seemed after The Social Network that everyone began wondering as well who this shy yet intriguing personality was and now he’s Spiderman; gotta love the biz.
The movie starts with an innocent enough looking man speaking about getting to choose his own name; Jack (Andrew Garfield). Speaking with his now mentor Terry (Peter Mullan) on starting work in a matter of two weeks. Having to go to the bank the next day as a means to put his new identity as out in the open as possible. Jack, who was once Eric had been recently released from Prison. Put away for a crime committed at a young age and having his identity remaining a secret with no photo having been taken since his incarceration. Anxious to ask but yearning to visit Philip’s (Taylor Doherty) grave. It seems while locked up that his only friend had committed suicide and hung himself though Jack believed the actual story to be something of a best kept secret. Meeting his roommate Kelly (Siobhan Finneran) goes somewhat awkwardly as he later settles into his rather dark and empty room with only one window, on the ceiling. Consisting experiencing flashes from his past he starts his job and meets co-worker Chris (Shaun Evans) who doesn’t seem to mind of his troubled past of which is told was spent boosting cars.
While Jack does get his wish of visiting Philip’s grave, it doesn’t seem to stop the memories from surfacing and getting the best of him daily. The best description I could give being that they took what would ordinarily be the first 15 minutes of the film (his childhood and events leading up to the incident) and stretched it over the entirety of the film. Which was so nicely maneuvered and made the suspense of wanting to know what happened all the more intensified in some small aspect. It’s a very unrushed film which I know can turn off some people but the story is so beautiful that it ends up being worth the watch. Or there’s always the excuse of watching Garfield’s amazing depiction of a boy who had everything taken away from him so young that everything is such an impacting experience at this point. Before his crime his father had clear abandonment issues and his mother was dying of cancer and would turn him away whenever approached. His school life was not exactly any better and while his grades and attendance suffered, found a friend in Philip who had defended him against bullies and had felt close enough to reveal information of his abuse as a child. Both boys bonding out of the hate they felt for the world around them.
Work seems to be going well and he makes friends quickly who take him out after a fellow co-worker inquires as to whether they could have a drink sometime. Getting advice from Terry to take it easy and not try to keep up with the others, a bit worried about the situation as a whole. Though he goes out and ends up meeting up with Michelle at a club after inadvertently taking ecstasy given by Chris. The scene itself being a great moment for the Actor who lets himself go and was completely in the moment, letting it take over the assorted array of emotions he was feeling. Despite the fact of soon after telling Michelle that he loved her, the two begin hanging out; taking away the time he spent avoiding her due to embarrassment. Also taking care of the fact of others around work calling her “The White Whale;” “Why does everyone have to have a name?”
Though it seems while Terry had been busy trying to re-facilitate Jack, that his real son had come back into his life, asking for a relationship with his father once again. Terry’s wife had been the one to leave him but his son seemed to “know” his dad was to blame for them not being close. Needing a place to stay, yet only spending time around the house drinking beers and watching TV. His one almost shared moment with his father being while in a daze and his father muttering how Jack was his greatest achievement yet, oops. Taking out his hurt by exposing Jack for the killer he was deemed. Of course this coming after revealing of a 20,000 bounty and expressing nothing more than to tell Michelle of his past, sure that he had found the girl meant to be with. Told by Terry of an attack on another 23-year-old who was brutally beaten, mistaken for Eric and couldn’t run the risk of divulging such information at this fragile time in his life. What ends up being a beautiful film about a boys re-entrance into a world that he was wrongfully taken away from. Andrew Garfield carries out an innocent soul trapped in a difficult time period perfectly, being so excited to experience life yet having it end abruptly due to ignorance of others.
What everyone else failed to take the time to understand was that both boys had been pushed aside in life which seemed to assist to certain ways of going about their childhood. Not as a means to make an excuse for either but had these children not experienced a terrible abuse and isolation away from their parents then perhaps we would have two very different children. Clearly there were abandonment issues that needed to be confronted and dealt with and not in a means of locking them away for as long as possible. What you also don’t see until much later is that the reason the little girl (Skye Bennett) loses her life had been because she was at the lake busy making out with a much older boy. Having approached them, she began taunting them and saying things that she paid for with her life. Doesn’t make the situation anymore right but is a factor in that outcome regardless. What’s more was that after being released and on the job, Jack helped save the life of a little girl. Somehow her father had been forced off the road and crashed, able to save her but him not being so lucky. Does saving a life make-up for taking another’s? It’s not as though you have some record accounting for every right and wrong thing you do in life…right? Perhaps some questions to debate before viewing the film. Either way the ending was magnificently tragic and made for a great drama you may not otherwise hear about.