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Boy A (2007)
Challenging and provocative
With its controversial subject matter, Boy A, is likely to be restricted to an art-house release, which is a shame, as it is one of the more challenging and provocative independent British productions of this decade.
With his role as the eponymous 'Boy A' now known as Jack - Andrew Garfield establishes himself as a star for the future (and as 'Lions for Lambs' is likely to be released before 'Boy A', he may already be by the time it comes out). His subtle and moving role as the child murderer released after a youth spent in institutions, captures both the wide-eyed innocence and the dark and guilty conscience that Jack carries with him.
When Jack is released from prison, with a necessary new identity, his counsellor Terry (Peter Mullan as a convincingly flawed mentor), believes so fully in his right to redemption, you can see Jack wanting and willing to believe him. But as the movie unfolds, Jack's doubts continue to arise, as through a series of episodes (drug use, a fight, trespassing) he finds it impossible to escape from his criminal past, despite a heroic rescue of a young girl trapped in a crashed car.
This particular contradiction (saving a life, where he once took one) seems to offer salvation, and a relationship with a co-worker Michelle (Katie Lyons in her first film role) teaches him that the world can offer a life of love. But the jealousy of Terry's son for his father's attention eventually pulls Jack's world apart, and as he tried to flee the chasing hounds of the tabloid press, he has to make a choice about his new life.
Never judgemental, John Crowley's direction delicately retells the original crime in the form of flashbacks, slowly unveiling how Jack reached this point. Ultimately, this is a film that questions our accepted beliefs about what is good or bad, about crime and punishment, innocence and guilt. 'Boy A' is a fine film that deserves a larger audience than it will probably ever receive.
Life Is Sweet (1990)
'life is sweet'
agree with a bunch of these comments, life can be sweet without it being perfect.
i loved the way the perception of the characters changed as you learnt more about them. knowing mike leigh's style you can be sure that when wendy tells nicola that she gave up university to have her children and says 'You didn't know that did you?', jane horrocks certainly wouldn't have the first time they acted it.
what didn't occur to me later is that although life can be sweet even despite the many difficulties that all families have, there is a tender double meaning for nicola. by excluding her family and relying on her chocolates, life can still stay sweet, but in the most temporary and most bitter way.
i felt so optimistic at the end that they will come out of it all stronger together. upbeat, but as far from a Hollywood ending as you can get.