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 »
Peter Sheridan, the director of "Borstal Boy", shows a good sensibility to the material based on the life of Brendan Behan. Having only seen the play at the Lyceum theater in the 70s, it was intriguing to see what kind of adaptation it received on the screen.
The best thing in the film is the young ensemble cast gathered for the film. What comes out in the movie is how friendships made in reform camp affected Mr. Behan for life. The fact that young Brendan can get to like someone as different as Charlie, speaks volumes for tolerance for someone that comes from Brendan's background.
Shawn Hatosy does a marvelous job in his portrayal of Brendan Behan. For an American born actor, this young man clearly demonstrates a range that many of his contemporaries don't have. In the pivotal role of Charlie Milwall, Danny Dyer gives a brilliant performance. Lee Ingleby, as the cruel Dale, is perfect. Eva Birthistle, as the daughter of the warden Joyce, is the only female in a man's world and she does a great job in making the young woman come alive. Michael York has a good opportunity in the role of Joyce.
The only problem with the film is that the dialog is hard to follow, be it because of the sound track, or the heavy accents Mr. Sheridan has everyone speaking as a way to show authenticity. We watched the DVD version, and had to turn the volume to maximum, and still it sounded muffled. In spite of that flaw, "Borstal Boy" is a powerful movie that needs to be seen.
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