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Brendan Behan, a sixteen year-old republican, is going on a bombing mission from Ireland to Liverpool during the second world war. His mission is thwarted when he is apprehended, charged and imprisoned in Borstal, a reform institution for young offenders in East Anglia, England. At Borstal, Brendan is forced to live face-to-face with those he perceived as "the enemy," a confrontation that reveals a deep inner conflict in the young Brendan and forces a self-examination that is both traumatic and revealing. Events take an unexpected turn and Brendan is thrown into a complete spin. In the emotional vortex, he finally faces up to the truth. Written by
Strand Releasing <www.strandreleasing.com>
The Broadway production of "Borstal Boy" based on a book by Brendan Behan and adapted for the stage by Frank McMahon opened at the Lyceum Theater in New York on March 31, 1970, ran for 143 performances and won the 1970 Tony Award for Best play. See more »
When Brendan arrives in Liverpool (which is actually London in the movie) he is passed by a London Transport Routemaster bus, a type which did not appear until 1958, though the movie is set in 1942. See more »
What a surprise of a little movie. Young American actor Shawn Hatosy (he's from Frederick, Maryland) gives an astonishing performance as IRA teen gone wrong, Irish writer Brendan Behan. Hatosy's "angry young man" is sincerely angry, but there are cracks in that tough veneer that show a sensitive, thoughtful kid wanting to break out. (Measure Hatosy's performance from "Outside Providence" to "Borstal Boy" and we're looking at a young actor of exceptional depth and promise.)
At the reformatory Borstal, Brendan discovers new hardships: living, eating and sleeping with his enemies. He learns however, that deep down, our enemies have the same needs, wants, fears and desires as we do ourselves. His budding friendship with the openly gay sailor, Charlie Milwal - despite its rocky beginning, captures the joy and frustration of having a best friend and through this friendship each learns how to understand, forgive and love. As Charlie, Danny Dyer gives a performance which is in every regard as equally deep as Hatosy's.
Brendan's taking to fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde and his eventual barnhouse production of "The Importance of Being Earnest" mounted by the young convicts for their fellow inmates. This is an absolute joy and becomes almost the fulcrum from which the story veers into its final direction.
Michael York, Eva Birthistle and the rest of the ensemble all contribute fine performances (particularly Ms. Birthistle who, as a secondary love interest doesn't arrive until a good half way through the story and is both beautiful and touching).
Director Peter Sheridan crams an almost unbelievable amount of story into into a mere 90 minutes so the film flies by. The ending may be a bit abrupt tying things up too tidily, but this is a minor quibble in a stunning, touching gem of a movie.
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