Boy A (review)

Jack Burridge did a very bad thing, years ago, as a child. Today, he’s a young man just released from a juvenile institution in a British city, trying to make his way anonymously in a world that knows all about his deed, and is not at all willing to pardon him for it. The limits of redemption and forgiveness get challenged ruthlessly in this haunting drama from Irish filmmaker John Crowley, who gave us the harrowing Dublin farce Intermission a few years back, and here is just plain harrowing as he takes us through Jack’s tentative attempts to learn to live in the real world… and to learn to live with what he’s done. Anglo-American up-and-comer Andrew Garfield (Lions for Lambs) is uncomfortably heartbreaking as Jack, to whom it is distressingly difficult to grant absolution at the same time one castigates oneself: shouldn’t it be easier to forgive a child even a terrible crime? It all gets even more unnerving via Terry (the always powerful Peter Mullan: The Last Legion), Jack’s counselor, and one of the few who knows his secrets: As Terry increasingly ignores his own teenage son in his attempts to guide Jack back to normality, the inevitable destiny of abused and neglected children is underscored. It is not, needless to say, an agreeable destiny at all.

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