BOY A is a film that moves the audience in ways few other films do. Part of this is the subject matter, part the solid drama of the novel by Jonathan Trigell on which Mark O'Rowe based his brilliantly understated screenplay, part the sensitive direction by John Crowley, and in large part is the cast of remarkably fine actors who make this impossibly treacherous story credible.
'Boy A' refers to Eric Wilson (Alfie Owen) who was jailed for a crime with his friend with whom he was associated as a youth. He has been released from prison and under the guidance of his 'parole officer/advisor' Terry (Peter Mullan), the now young adult is renamed Jack Burridge (Andrew Garfield) to protect him from the public who still remember the heinous crime of which he was convicted: Terry warns Jack to tell no one his real identity. Jack is assigned a new family and finds new friends in this strange world outside prison walls, but he is still haunted by the crime that changed his life. How Jack relates to his first female relationship and survives the bigotry of his classmates and city folk and finds a way to hold onto life despite his childhood 'sins' forms the development of this story.
While the entire cast is excellent, Andrew Garfield's performance as the guilt ridden needy Eric/Jack is exemplary. There are many issues this film deals with in addition to the trauma of starting life over after imprisonment, issues that are universal in nature and that probe our psyches for answers that are never easily resolved here. It is a brilliant little film from the UK. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 08