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Andrew Garfield, Peter Mullan, Shaun Evans, Katie Lyons, Jeremy Swift ... see more see more... , Anthony Lewis , Alfie Owen , Siobhan Finneran , James Young

A man looking to shed his former identity in order to move beyond his traumatic past discovers that the past and the future are inexorably linked in director John Crowley's feature adaptation of a nov... read more read more...el by author Jonathan Trigell. Terry (Peter Mullan) is a caseworker whose job it is to help people create new lives. His latest charge is a young man with a troubled past who eventually decides on the new name Jack (Andrew Garfield). Jack has decided to start a new life in Manchester, where no one is aware of his sordid history. As Jack begins his new job in a new town, he quickly catches the attention of beautiful co-worker Michelle (Katie Lyons). While Michelle's advances are unmistakable, Jack remains somewhat awkward in his new skin and the initial encounters between the pair are somewhat clumsy. Later, as the two new lovers begin experiencing the thrill of connecting with a kindred soul, Jack performs a heroic feat that finds him celebrated as a local hero, and it begins to look like he has successfully made the transition into his new life. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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88% liked it

35,753 ratings


88% liked it

59 critics

DVD Release Date: October 7, 2008

Stats: 1,224 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (1,224)

  • fb733768972
    August 23, 2012
    This film does everything that you wish a film would do. It takes the dark past of a murderer, turns him into a likeable character and makes you feel for him more than any other character. Andrew Garfield is astonishing in this film, in which sparked his career as an actor. In hi... read mores first starring role, his performance feels very real and true. By the end of the film, you will have been captivated by every scene that there will be no possible way to dislike this movie. Not only do I love every second of "Boy A," but I it kept my thinking after the movie ended and I cannot wrap my mind around the brilliant conclusion, if you can even call it that. This film, in my eyes, is a masterpiece!
  • April 30, 2012
    At first a thought-provoking film about guilt, atonement and the right to start over as a new person. It relies on an excellent performance by Andrew Garfield, but sadly after two intriguing acts everything culminates in a disappointing ending that is contrived and insubstantial.
  • fb634552688
    August 1, 2011
    Loved it
  • March 14, 2011
    A very interesting film where the director plays on the sympathy and likeness to character who has the past of a murderer. The idea of giving people a second chance in life is a common theme, and for the most part, the second chance is shown in a positive light. The twist in the ... read moremovie comes from the question; with time should all crimes or mistakes be forgiven and forgotten no matter the scale? The film does not conclude with solid answers, but rather dwells on it's complex ideas.
  • February 8, 2011
    Based on British author Jonathan Trigell's debut novel, "Boy A", Irish director John Crowley's 2007 film "Boy A" tells a rather unusual story of a young man of about 24, just released from prison.

    Now the events in the novel bear a striking resemblance to the real life incide... read morent of the murder of James Bulger (Read all about it here: However, the plot of the novel and the film itself greatly differ from the actual episode and keep their scope limited to the aftermath of the key event in the aforementioned young man's life, several years after the event itself!

    The title of the film alludes to the court practice of concealing the identity of child defendants. So we soon come to know that the protagonist (Andrew Garfield), now known as Jack Burridge has been imprisoned as a child and is released as an adult. He is given his new identity and a second chance; a chance at a new life with a full-time job, guided by his parole contact, a rehabilitation worker, Terry (Peter Mullan).

    Jack comes across as rather shy, reserved and very timid at first. Majority of the focus of the film is on Jack's attempts at acclimatizing to his new surroundings, his sudden entry into a normal social life as an adult, a mutual attraction that develops between him and his cute associate at work Michelle (Katie Lyons) (for him, a rather late yet abrupt "coming of age", if you will), a close friendship with his colleague Chris (Shaun Evans) and the considerable popularity he earns at his workplace. A series of flashbacks throw some light on the fateful event in Jack's life that subsequently led to him being imprisoned. Nonetheless, Jack is working towards forgetting "the incident" as one bad dream and enjoying his newfound happy life...but will it last? Or will his past demons come back to haunt him? Is "the incident" dead and buried, or has it left permanent scars that are going to render his past inescapable?

    Andrew Garfield, now famous for his memorable act in "The Social Network" delivers an outstanding performance here. He brings the character of the diffident Jack to can actually feel his emotional ups and downs, the initial awkwardness, the joy of suddenly entering the world of adulthood from a social perspective. He is excellent in all of his scenes, particularly the more difficult ones and also one stand-out scene in a nightclub when he experiences an acid trip. The sheer authenticity of his act makes you applaud the young actor. Another brilliant performance comes from Peter Mullan as the rehab worker Terry. Perhaps he is better known for his "Mother Superior" act in "Trainspotting". His character is moderately developed as a fatherly figure to Jack juxtaposed with a little inside look at his relationship with his own son. This underrated Scottish actor seriously deserves bigger and better roles...his is a talent that certainly merits more recognition. Shaun Evans and Katie Lyons support well.

    John Crowley crafts a slow-burning yet compelling film. He plays it extremely safe and resorts to that technique called "ambiguity" to drive at the point he is trying to make. So nothing is made entirely clear. Did Jack really commit the crime he was accused of? Or did he just happen to be there..a classic case of wrong place, wrong time..a hapless scapegoat! Yes, the flashbacks do reveal a significant part of his life as a child and the clearly unwelcome company he was involved in. But when it comes to "the incident", the director chooses the clever "off-camera" device. Revealing the brutality of the crime Jack committed is not really Crowley's agenda. His real intention then, is to pose some highly debatable questions to the viewers. Should a small child of about 10 be held responsible for his acts? After all, it was just one incident in his life that led to wasn't really in his blood. Now he is a full grown man, a kindhearted man who wants to live the good life. Should a man charged, accused and imprisoned for performing a single heinous act be condemned for life? Does he not deserve the chance to be like everyone else; A chance to be a good man who wants a decent living amongst friends and loved ones? It is this central theme that is likely to polarize audiences. Most will probably hate the film for its message, others will end up loving it for its profound character portrait.

    As for me, I am still not able to draw a satisfying conclusion to what I feel about Crowley's film as far as his message is concerned. But I do like the film as a fine specimen of film-making. And that is where Crowley succeeds the most. He ensures that his product will trigger debate on some level and at the same time serve as a thought-provoking film that will certainly be well-remembered by serious film lovers, if not well loved.
  • August 28, 2010
    "Boy A" is one of the best movies you never heard of! I was left breathless! "Boy A" challenges the viewer to see the person more so than the crime. I felt conflicted as my emotions were pulled in many directions during the movie from different characters experiences. It left ... read moreme questioning what I would do in the character's position? This movie is recondite and esoteric while allowing the viewer to relax and enjoy this gritty story. This is not a fast paced movie and may I suggest be viewed starting with a glass of wine, but keep the vodka close as the the story unfolds! All the actors gave excellent performances especially Andrew Garfield as Boy A who will be the new Peter Parker in Spiderman 4.
  • June 6, 2009
    Good, not as good as I thought it would be from the trailer, but worth a watch.
  • January 31, 2009
    A superb film in just about every imaginable way. From the incredible drama to the moral and ethical subjects tackled. It shows how people really can change and also the saddening unforgiving nature of society. Nothing can excuse what Jack did, but as the film shows he has become... read more a decent and even heroic young man. The performance from Andrew Garfield is worthy of any award. He presents us with a man who finds society awkward, who has regrets over his past but most of all wants to move on with a worthwhile life. The film is often brutal but also touching. Mullan is his superb self and every character is given a wealth of depth and understanding. A rare, honest and in many ways brave film.
  • December 30, 2008
    "Boy A" is a stunner. I'm always searching for the hidden gems of the cinema world and now I found one! This film has been a hit on many film festivals and I see it as my duty to tell my friends about it.

    Jack, played by Andrew Garfield, is a young man who's in transition to gai... read moren a new future. He was sent to prison for a crime he committed as a child. Terry, played by Peter Mullen (Trainspotting, Children of Men) is the one person who has faith and sees the good in him. His new life starts good, he gets a job, meets a girl and falls in love. But the past woun't leave him alone...

    John Crowley, the director, tells the story of Jack using flashbacks. This suits the film perfectly, as the viewer gains little by little more information about this sympathetic character.

    "Boy A" is somewhat of a brutal, morally complex film. Should people be given a second chance? Will the guilt of your past be stronger than your will to find happiness in life?

    The strongest factor in "Boy A" is its lead actors. I can't recall when was the last time I saw such a strong performance, as Andrew Garfield's performance as Jack? His future, If he upholds the same level as in "Boy A", couldn't be any brighter. All of the actors do an excellent job and they show us perfect examples on how to reach the viewers heart.

    The cinematography and sound department are simple but effective. The sets are pretty ascetic but they leave more attention to the actors work.

    After my first viewing, I really can't find anything negative to say about this film. "Boy A" is a film that touched me. And that doesn't happen often. A perfect achievement in acting, or filmmaking in general, "Boy A" should be viewed by everyone who enjoy serious cinema.
  • December 9, 2008
    It was pretty good. One of those unique films. I liked how they went back to his childhood in between his adulthood.

    After watching this film, for those who saw the end..."the crime", I had a dream that night that I was doing the same thing to my younger brother! Weird!

Critic Reviews

Amy Biancolli
September 12, 2008
Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

It makes us feel sympathy for the devil. Full Review

Christy DeSmith
September 5, 2008
Christy DeSmith, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Director John Crowley, a veteran Irish theater director now working in film, is deliberate with every last element of his film. Full Review

Kamal Al-Solaylee
August 29, 2008
Kamal Al-Solaylee, Globe and Mail

Even its structurally weaker moments give Garfield an opportunity to expand on Jack's physical and mental dislocation. Given Boy A's final floating reel, it's an anchoring performance in every sense o... Full Review

J. R. Jones
August 12, 2008
J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

The movie is taut with suspense but culminates in wise resignation as the hero comes to understand he's running from a part of himself. Full Review

Stanley Kauffmann
August 11, 2008
Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

Crowley gets a remarkable performance from Andrew Garfield: his Jack is a person who carries guilt with him even when he is trying to override it. Full Review

John Hartl
August 8, 2008
John Hartl, Seattle Times

Boy A is one of those rare movies that takes the idea of rehabilitation seriously. In the end, it may present a worst-case scenario, but it does so with unusual depth and conviction. Full Review

Ruthe Stein
August 8, 2008
Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

In tandem, the director and screenwriter build up a palpable suspense. Boy A will rivet you while raising issues about forgiveness and just who deserves it. Full Review

Carrie Rickey
August 8, 2008
Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

Along with Garfield and the splendid Scottish actor Mullan, Crowley brings great tact to this bruising saga of atonement and moral regeneration. Though a bad seed can bring forth good fruit, will othe... Full Review

Tom Maurstad
August 8, 2008
Tom Maurstad, Dallas Morning News

There are some gaps in the movie's reality, and some O. Henry-like contrivances, but the masterful trick Boy A plays on viewers is to get them to care before giving them reasons not to. Full Review

Wesley Morris
August 8, 2008
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

We're introduced to more string-pulling symbolism than a movie this inherently sad ever needs. It's too much. Full Review

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