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"Boy A" *** (100 minutes)

Sunday September 7, 2008

The inaugural film opening the 2008 fall series of the Cinema Sundays at The Charles comes to us from Scotland. This tough, in-your-face movie by director John Crowley ("Intermission") is not the kind of flick that will have you dancing in the aisles with joy, to say the least! Anthony Perkins look-a-like, Andrew Garfield ("Lions For Lambs") plays a young man newly released from prison after spending the previous 14 years as a juvenile offender. There to greet him is his caseworker, Terry, played by talented Scot Peter Mullen ("My Name is Joe"), who will help him adjust to his new life. Based on the novel by Jonathan Trigell, the film might bring to mind the case of the 2 juveniles who were seen on a mall video in England leading away a child who was later found murdered. However, when we meet "Boy A" (as the courts referred to him to protect his identity) we see him as an introverted soul who seems soft and kindly. Only later do we learn, through flashbacks to his pre-prison life, how he got involved with "Boy B" and what led to his incarceration. The film raises many questions about how society treats its youthful criminals, if these criminals should be given a second chance, and whether justice is really served in the final analysis. Outstanding performances by the leads (especially Garfield who exhibits a full range of emotions throughout) enhances the utter realism of the proceedings. My main fault is a pet peeve: the decision by the filmmakers not to include subtitles for the dialogue spoken by the heavily Scottish accented cast. However, if you like great acting and films that make you think and debate tough timely issues, be certain to put it on your list.