Brilliantly British: Boy A

Before Andrew Garfield was swinging around New York City in The Amazing Spiderman, or even before writing equations on the windows of Harvard’s dorm rooms in The Social Network, he starred in the startlingly brilliant film Boy A. This film, which premiered on British television in 2007 and came to American theatres shortly after, transcend the notion of “made for television” movies (which are typically bad and horribly done) and asked the audience a question that is difficult to answer. That question? Are the sins of our past what defines our future? As well, are we forgiven by society, or by ourselves?

Boy A is about Jack Burridge, who has recently been released from prison, and is desperately trying to integrate himself into a society that seems foreign to him. Jack is socially awkward and slowly begins to make friends and even starts a relationship with a girl in his office (played by Katie Lyons)– but, of course, Jack is hiding something. (WARNING: SPOILERS) When Jack (originally named Eric) was a child, he and his friend Philip killed a fellow classmate, named Rebecca. While at the end of the film, it reveals that Jack/Eric did not kill Rebecca, but he watched Philip kill her and did nothing to stop him– and it is here that Jack creates his guilt and goes to jail. Eventually, the press discovers that Jack is Eric and where he is, which causes Jack’s delicate world to crumble apart. (WARNING: HUGE, MAJOR SPOLIER!) And, finally, in the last ten minutes or so, Jack goes off to a seaside town, walks down a pier, and kills himself by jumping into the cold water.

This movie, honestly, took me by surprise. The acting by Katie Lyons was well done and I believed that she would be the supportive girlfriend, Peter Mullan was great as Jack’s mentor/father figure, and the entire cast was phenomenal. But it was Andrew Garfield’s incredibly honest portrayal as a young man who not only is struggling to define himself, but to forgive himself as well that made this film as incredible as it was. It is through his portrayal that the audience debates whether people and society are capable of forgiveness, and not just judgement, and who truly deserves a second chance at life. After watching Boy A, I immediately knew why Andrew Garfield won the coveted Best Actor BAFTA Award in 2008, and I knew that Garfield could truly play any type of character– even one that has an extreme amount of damage and baggage as Jack did. It takes a lot to get me to cry while watching a film, but I did break down and cry during Boy A– and I feel that is mostly due to Garfield’s amazing performance.

Have you seen Boy A? What do you think of the movie and the various actors in the film? And what do you think of Andrew Garfield’s performance in this film?

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