Monday, November 24, 2008


BOY A (John Crowley, 2008, UK) A young man hides in plain sight assuming a government assigned identity, his new persona forever tainted by the dreadful deeds of his childhood. How can “Boy A” be rehabilitated when he never had a morally healthy foundation? This film examines serious questions concerning Restorative and Retributive Justice without judging the characters or giving us contrived answers. Jack Burridge is the new animus, outwardly projected by the now young man, who has spent the better part of his life as Eric Wilson, a child murderer locked up in a juvenile detention facility. Jack must become this new creation of flesh and blood, he must absorb a false history in a few days, and he must be always wary for those who would do him harm: after all, society demands its 165 pound of flesh. Though he has served his legal sentence, does Jack attain grace when he saves another little girl, is the debt morally repaid? Can the harm ever be undone? Director John Crowley never preaches or chokes the audience with virtue; he frustratingly lets the story become a volatile emotional cocktail and lets us reach our own conclusions. We must ask ourselves to define justice. Does the legal definition differ from our spiritual association? Should Jack have been allowed to reintegrate back into society? We are not allowed insight into the victim’s family but it seems as if more resources were spent on the perpetrator than on helping those harmed. The film is structured to create empathetic contact with Jack, to experience him as a human being, and this is the power of the narrative. As his new life descends into chaos he must confront the demons that walk the suicide fringe and oppose the worst one of all: himself. (B)

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