Few films wowed audiences at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival as much as John Crowley's Boy A. Scipted by Mark O'Rowe from a Jonathan Trigell novel, Boy A is a story-driven mystery which is carried on the shoulders of newcomer Andrew Garfield, in a tour de force performance that dominates the film from opening title to closing credits. Jack Burridge is leaving prison after a 14-year sentence for a crime he committed as a child. His mentor Terry has been working to gain his release and help him transition into the new world in which he'll live and work under a new identity. It's up to Jack to determine who he wants to be, but it's up to those around him to determine whether or not he will be allowed to do so. It's that challenge which is at the heart of Boy A.

Andrew Garfield (Doctor Who, Lions for Lambs) is frighteningly brilliant as Jack. It's his movie to make or break, and this role is sure to be singled out as the launching pad for what is destined to be a notable career. The viewer sees a sweet, sensitive, puppy dog of a young man while his secret past indicates something completely different. We wrestle with that concept as he does himself, and it's an emotional, moving piece of work. As his counselor Terry, Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, Children of Men) is the father figure who provides a foundation for Terry's wandering existence. His attempts to keep Jack alive and well are both heartening and heartbreaking.

Boy A is visually stunning. The interplay of light and shadow through the use of diffusion filters and silhouette gave me chills. The dramatic manipulation of white light is a seemingly simple device but cuts to the bone. Cinematographer Rob Hardy demonstrates true artistry with camerawork that is often a character in itself. A recurring visual theme using tunnels, alleyways, hallways, and bridges stands out even to the untrained eye. Paddy Cunneen's score makes it clear that this is, at its heart, a tale of intrigue.

Told in flashback, the secrets of Boy A are revealed in bits and pieces. The reality of who Jack is becomes more powerful and painful as the film progresses. Garfield is so charismatic, and his Jack so incredibly sympathetic, that this film easily rises to the top of those screened at this year's festival. John Crowley's Boy A is a master class in the art of filmmaking.


Author

Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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