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A Roman Catholic teenage boy in Nova Scotia during the 1930s faces various growing-up problems: Should he become a priest? What should he do about the murder he witnessed, committed by a local cop and upstanding parishioner? And how far should he go with his girl friend, who happens to be the murderer's daughter?Written by
Paul Emmons <email@example.com>
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"The Bay Boy" was clearly a labor of love for writer/director Daniel Petrie. In all his long, successful directorial career ("A Raisin in the Sun", "Fort Apache the Bronx", "Resurrection"), this is his sole writing credit. The film takes place exactly where Petrie himself grew up - Glace Bay, Nova Scotia - on the island of Cape Breton. But, for all the personal identity and local talent involved, it's not nearly as good of a film as some others made on the island like "Margaret's Museum" and "New Waterford Girl". The thing that holds back the story here is Petrie's filmmaking approach. The soundtrack constantly intrudes with out-of-place music, and the acting is too often directed toward an older style approach. It's well-made, yes, just not nearly as convincing as it might have been.
For such a totally obscure film, there are a couple of recognizable faces. Liv Ullmann and Kiefer Sutherland (in his second role) are the core of the story here, an exploration of the complexities of the mother/son relationship. Another Nova Scotian actor, Peter Donat, has a less noticeable role as the father. In the end, "The Bay Boy" would have been much better served by a more realist, quiet approach. Daniel Petrie seems intent on filming his story as if it were a 1930s movie, which tends to keep everything at a distance. There's a lot of feeling put into it, a lot of talent. But it just doesn't come out quite right. I got something from it, just not nearly enough.
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