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Song for a Raggy Boy
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Reviews & Ratings for
Song for a Raggy Boy More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

A great film made brilliant by the sheer power of acting

Author: johnnyd2 from United Kingdom
7 March 2004

A great film made brilliant by the sheer power of acting. I have never experienced anything quite like it. We have here a film, a story, so convincingly told that something inside me wishes it were not true and that the abuse of authority that this film exposes does not still exist in the political and religious leaders of toady. The story is that of Franklin, a teacher in an Irish reformatory school who takes up the cause of the ill treated and neglected children being brutalised by Brother John, a rising star in the catholic church hierarchy, with the tacit approval of the other brothers, each labouring over their own guilty secrets. Of course the story is a harrowing one, and does not spare the viewers feelings, at times I wondered why I was putting myself through this gruelling history lesson, but than I knew, that guiding me through the film, like a guardian angel, is the consumate acting of absoutly all the cast. I knew they would see me through. Aidan Quinn and Iain Glen are magnificently convincing both giving the best perfprmances of their careers to date. The young boys are all wonderful in their roles. Their acting is pure realism, such mature performances from young teenagers are a glowing tribute to the directing of Aisling Walsh

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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Men may cry.

Author: Patrick Duncan ( from Belfast, Northern Ireland
4 December 2003

An outstanding film from Ireland that is playing to strongly moved and even angry audiences in many parts of Europe as well as competing at the box office in its own territory favourably with such more obviously commercial movies as Intermission and Veronica Guerin. It has won either jury or audience awards at Ghent, Copenhagen, Cherbourg and Slovenia festivals. It tackles the tough and difficult-to-film subject of child abuse and manages to uplift your emotions before devestating and dashing them. All the performances, particularly those from Iain Glen as the sadist priest Brother John and from John Travers as the lead boy Mercier are outstanding and achieving widespread recognition, and many people think this is Aidan Quinn's best role ever. Skillfully and humanely handled by director Aisling Walsh, the film has more conviction than others in its family of films such as The Magdalene Sisters or Conspiracy of Silence and deserves to be seen anywhere it hasn't yet received a distribution. Anyone still interested in honest, highly moving drama or anyone whose youth was not a bed of roses will appreciate this film. An unusual film in that, just possibly, men may cry at it.

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Rattling and shocking.

Author: Kirri L from Newcastle, Australia
27 September 2004

Late last night I was watching Foxtel and I came across Song For A Raggy Boy. This movie shook me so hard that I could cry at the drop of a hat. I have no idea why this movie would rattle me more than most other movies I have seen recently - there are far more graphic and shocking movies than this. But the cruelty of the violence coupled with the students' passion and hope (as well as the inspiring school teacher) left me to turn off the TV and sit in complete darkness for what felt like hours, literally trembling.

Also, as a result, I shall forever look upon Ian Glen as The Sadist Headmaster Who Thrashed The Kids Senseless. He was almost TOO good in this role. Aidan Quinn, however, has proved himself once again to be a fine actor, worthy of much more acclaim than he has received. He's not an A-lister, by any means, but he has an art, an impeccably developed craft. He blew me away in Two Of Us and...well, if I wore a hat, i'd take it off to you.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Easily one of the best films of 2003

Author: KieranWhittemore from Copenhagen, Denmark
5 March 2004

After reading the other review that totally thrashed this excellent piece of film i felt i just had to write one.

This is really an excellent piece of film. Easily one of the best films of 2003.

It's about a group of boys in an Irish Reformatory School in 1939 who one days gets a new teacher who opposes the violent and harsh ways the "brothers" use to dicipline the boys.

The performances are more than excellent, and the young characters are played out so well by the boys.

If you haven't seen this wonderful film, do so right now! It has recently been released on DVD in Scandinavia. So there's no excuse now.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A very powerful, moving film that sees the humanity in all of us.

Author: abe shainberg from New York, New York
14 May 2003

Saw this at Tribeca Film Festival and was genuinely moved by the power and passion of the story, the acting and above all the directing. The filmmakers took care to show each person as a combination of good and bad.The casting of the kids was outright fabulous. Aidan Quinn was born to play this part and brings to his acting a deepfelt conviction of righting certain wrongs with tremendous power and feeling.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A terrible catalogue of abuse

Author: Martin Bradley ( from Derry, Ireland
17 March 2006

The catalogue of abuse perpetrated by the clergy in Ireland against the children in their care has long been in the public domain. Tentatively only now is the cinema beginning to address the issue, firstly with Peter Mullan's "The Magdalene Sisters", which wavered between broad comedy and tragedy to disconcerting effect and now with Aisling Walsh's superb "Song for a Raggy Boy", an altogether bleaker affair; indeed at times this is virtually unwatchable so intense is the brutality it depicts.

Aidan Quinn is the first lay-teacher in an Irish reform school run by the Christian Brothers, (hardly an apt term), in the Ireland of 1939. The system of abuse he encounters is so all encompassing that he seems powerless to do anything about it despite winning the approval of the boys. This is a deeply troubling, (and in the end, very moving) film beautifully directed by the young Irish director Aisling Walsh whose lack of technique is all the more unsettling.

It is also superbly played, in particular by the boys, non-professionals all and by Quinn, Iain Glen as the sadistic and evil brother at the centre, Marc Warren as the weak-willed, sexually driven brother, (his is the most emotionally complex character), and by that great and undervalued British actor Dudley Sutton. Flashbacks to Quinn's part in the Spanish Civil War may be ill-judged but this remains a spare, unsettling film which should be mandatory viewing for Catholics everywhere.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:


Author: texan84339 from Utah, USA
20 January 2003

I happened to get to see "Song for a Raggy Boy" at the premiere showing at Sundance...what a wonderful experience! Ms. Walsh did an excellent job of selecting the cast, which in turn, did a fabulous job of captivating the audience. Very well done! Many thanks to Ms. Walsh and Mr. Quinn for their presence at the showing, as well as the time spent answering questions.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A neatly packaged if somewhat overtly concise perspective on Irish Industrial schools

Author: PeterJordan from Mayo, Ireland
24 March 2006

I'd been skirting past this one in the video shop for ages wondering whether it was gonna be too depressing and harrowingly sad to sit through.

And before continuing I have to say I love the Irish characters that Aidan Quinn has created from Playboys, thru This is My father and Harry Boland in Michael Collins - all characters you can empathize with and truly feel their pain, largely, it must be said, because of the projection of Quinns acting.

The only Irish "reform school" I've ever visited is the building that used to house Letterfrack Industrial School in Co Galway, now (somewhat ironically considering some of the scenes in SFaRB) a fine arts furniture college. But to say that the building is still haunted by the ghosts of the boys and the pain and abuse inflicted there is an understatement. It literally oozes and sweats from the very walls of the former institution, defying every admirable attempt by the current education guardians to drag it into the present and positively project its glorious current use.

And so, whilst what is effectively a "year in the life" of this particular unidentified industrial school, does manage to capture in a nutshell much of this pain, and instill in the audience a huge anger at what was perpetuated in these places in both the name of reform and religion, somewhere in the back of ones mind there is a discomfort that it's all being just a bit too neatly packaged, summarized and concluded for the benefit of Hollywood and the happy ending with a massive nod to Dead Poets Society when in reality, as still continues to be daily documented in the Irish courts and tribunals of Inquiry and media reports into such abuse, this was not and sadly never would be something that one brave and progressive teacher might have hope to take on and buck the system - As the tragic caption at the end points out, this system of education and authority with all it's abuses persisted in Ireland right up to 1984 and along it way produced such brilliant and brave people Don Baker, Paddy Doyle (The God Squad), Colm O'Gorman and Mannix Flynn but equally claimed as victims such brilliant and capable people as Noel Browne, and probably most tragically, the graveyard and unmarked graves behind Letterfrack college bears testament to the many many young boys that shed their very lives to these institutions - So to try to imply (for whatever feel good factor and positive connotations it gains) that one man may have successfully stood up to this system during the first year of the "Emergency" in 1939/40 and everything was hunky Dorey after that and the authorities and the church sat up and took notice, is just too syrupy of a picture and a quick fix solution when one is sadly aware that the tragic reality is far removed and some 50 odd years away from that - and whilst it was admittedly a very good picture, this simplistic portrayal of a huge and continuing Irish problem, served to tarnish rather than endow the film as a whole.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Powerful movie

Author: ninoguapo from Middle of Nowhere
31 January 2007

I watched this movie with tears in my eyes. No other movie until know was able to make me feel such pain – almost physical just from watching the story that unfolds on the screen. With risk to repeat myself I must note that this was probably the hardest movie to watch from all I have seen until the moment.

I made few notes when it started – there were about the interesting characters, the song of Libera I noticed – but now I can not really write about that. Shocking, painful, cruel, realistic to the core – I can go on like this for a long time. The fact that "Song for a raggy boy" is based on a true story contributes to the powerful effect this movie has on its viewers.

The acting is quite good as well – so good that I felt like I knew some of the characters in person. The young actors were really convincing and I felt Delaney and Mercier almost like my friends. But let me tell you a bit more about the movie – it is set in a reformatory school run by the catholic church – as it often happens the boys who are send there find anything , but help and support – instead they are beaten and abused mentally and physically ( some even sexually ) from the priests. One of them Brother John is in charge of discipline – here is the line with which he tells the new teacher for the kind of job he is expected to do: "The creatures you are going to teach are not to be confused with intelligent human beings." Only this line itself was enough for me to imagine the horrible manner in which the boys are treated. The new teacher however tried to change all that – and as the story unfolds I began to really like him – he was strict, but at the same time caring with the boys he taught. Brother John becomes his enemy almost from the very beginning and after failing to persuade the superior at the institution to dismiss the new teacher he directs his anger to the school pupils. You will have to watch the movie to find out how it all ends … This movie gets 10 out of 10 for me – since it is sure one of the best ones I have ever watched.

Similar movies: Sleepers, Dead Poets Society

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding in Every Way

Author: Andrew Towne from United States
13 September 2009

Everything about this movie is wonderful if you can handle the grim subject matter.

The musical score is superb, the cinematography excellent, the writing intelligent, and the acting faultless.

I was expecting the subject matter to be exploited, but it wasn't. At the same time, no punches were pulled.

Everyone involved in this project deserves high praise, and my only complaint is that here is yet another great movie ignored by the mainstream.

I am happy to say that this movie is heart-warming at the end -- in spite of the tragedy that takes place, and the fact that the wrongdoers do not receive the punishment they so richly deserve.

Anyone concerned about the injustices and hardships visited upon innocent and defenseless children should see this movie, which is based on historical fact.

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