Friday, February 11, 2011

Rewind--Boy A

or: Another Andrew Garfield movie.

One word to sum it up: Intense.

Until Andrew Garfield got his huge Hollywood break in that really small film that know one has heard about, The Social Network, people weren't really aware of how much of a great actor this young chap is. Unless, of course, you live in Britain. While most people are caught up in 'the star of the moment' side of Andrew, few realize that Andy was 'the star of the moment' back in 2007 when he starred in Boy A, his first feature film/starring role, which saw him receive a BAFTA for Best Leading Actor in a TV-movie. So his performance in The Social Network can suck it, because his performance in this movie was, quite frankly, the bomb.

The film opens with a scene between Terry (Peter Mullan), a case worker who works on ex-prisoners and helps them gain a better life on the outside, and his latest project, Jack (Andrew Garfield). From this first scene, which shows just how clueless but haplessly innocent he is when he beams over a pair of new shoes. Jack has been in prison since he was young for a horrible crime he committed when he was just a child, and has been released under the new name 'Jack' and is sent to live in Manchester, where no one is aware of his identity or what he has done in his past. Here's where a romance comes into the equation: Jack meets a beautiful coworker, Michelle (Katie Lyons), and though their encounters are initially awkward, the two are soon in a serious relationship. This isn't the only good thing which comes Jack's way. Jack becomes a hero by saving a young girl who was in a car accident, and everyone is singing his praises.

Not a film to be a happy story about a bad guy turned eternally good, Boy A spends it's time unfolding the story behind the story, which eventually turns out to be pretty darn horrible and causes the viewer to draw their own conclusions as to what they feel for the protagonist. Boy A also serves as a gritty allegory for the past catching up with someone in the worst possible way. Cleverly edited sequences of flashbacks, present time and even fantasy make up this movie to be a high brow TV movie that is significantly slow in pace, but also a gripping morality drama. The ideas which it explores and it's refreshing take on an oft-trodden topic are nothing short of impressive, plus the fact that it has a few tricks up its sleeve and a killer ending which make this a very watchable film.

The arc of this film, really, is Andrew Garfield. As the film unfurls, so does his character, but you can't help but only see the good side of him thanks to his enlightening performance. Like most of his other work, his subtlety is really overpowering, and he uses his weakness as a weapon to get us to all fall in love with him. And it's impossible not to. This film saw the birth of a star. Unfortunately it took until now for the rest of the world to come to the party (me included, but hey, it only came out on DVD here a year or so ago). His performance is the highlight of the film, and sometimes carries it through the few lulls in the script and whatnot. It's not a one man show though. The supporting cast do an excellent job, especially the kids who play out Jack's past. Boy A serves as further proof that the Brits are never people to do things half way, and deliver an engrossing, slightly sad drama about someone just trying to make up for all his mistakes.

THE VERDICT: Andrew Garfield's brilliant central performance gives Boy A the lift it needed, but the film is a surprisingly brash and gripping watch.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. The first time I noticed Garfield was in The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, he was very good in that.
    But I do want to see Boy A, it looks fantastic!

    Excellent review!

  2. That was the first movie I had ever seen him in, too, and I really liked him in that. Boy A is fantastic!


  3. Boy A is definitely a one-man show, even though I like the support around him. It does have an air of TV film about it, (well it is,) but in some cases, and particularly the story, it doesn't play out that way.

    Another excellent Garfield performance.

    Btw, whenever you catch Never Let Me Go, you're going to LOVE him in it. Just managed to catch the film on it's opening today. (Another film, along with Blue Valentine, that has been shafted at Award Season.)

  4. This movie is all about Andrew Garfield, which is bloody fantastic. I'm so going to see Never Let Me Go when it finally comes out in a month and five days (yup, I'm counting)!

  5. I just saw this too. I had thought only Andrew's performance would be the good point of the film, but the whole film was quite brilliant. And definitely intense.
    I love the sensitive roles Andrew plays. Just saw Red riding yesterday, and though he begins as a cocky reporter, that character too has a lot of sensitivity and depth. It will be something to see how he pulls off the Amazing Spiderman- July 3rd, 2012. I'm counting too :P

    PS- Didn't you just love the dancing scene?? The way he moves..........

  6. It is quite a cool movie, isn't it? Man, I wanna see Red Riding! And I'm counting towards the Spiderman date.

    Love the dancing scene! With that and his small dance in The Social Network, I think this guy may have another talent up his sleeve...


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