Boy A

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Toronto International Film Festival

The Weinstein Co.

TORONTO -- Representing a distinct change of pace (literally) from 2004's propulsive, boisterous "Intermission," John Crowley's "Boy A" is a quiet and penetrating portrait of a sensitive young man who re-enters society with a fresh identity after spending half his life in juvenile prisons.

Acquired by the Weinstein Co. at Toronto, the eloquent film, which boasts a stirring title turn by newcomer Andrew Garfield, effectively draws the viewer in to the man's hopeful new life as it simultaneously reveals the chain of events that led to his incarcerated past.

At the picture's outset, the 24-year-old man to be known as Jack Burridge (Garfield) is being coached by his caseworker, Terry (Peter Mullan) on the finer points of his fresh start in working-class Manchester.

We know that he served time for the murder of another child, but at this point, Crowley and his "Intermission" screenwriter Mark O'Rowe are mum when it comes to any other details.

In due course, the shy Jack begins to blend in nicely with his new surroundings, eventually meeting and falling in love with a bubbly, decidedly forward young woman (Katie Lyons) at the company where he works.

But the constant, nagging presence of his past soon catches up with him, and when the true nature of the crime of which he was find guilty is broadcast by the local media, Jack is ostracized by virtually everyone around him.

Adapted by O'Rowe from a novel Jonathan Trigell, the production for the U.K.'s Channel4, has an unforced naturalness in both Crowley's patient direction and those tender performances, especially the scenes between Garfield and Lyons as well as those between Garfield and Mullan.

Thanks to the fine cutting of editor Lucia Zucchetti, those shifts between the present and the past are fluently executed, with both playing an equally important role in Jack's troubling life.
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