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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.28.09] movie review drama



Year: 2009
Directors: Brian Percival
Writers: Julie Rutterford
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 4 out of 10

Fourteen-year-old Robbie impregnates classmate Leanne, and becomes a father. His own dad is aloof, irresponsible, immature and gambles away his cash down Ladbrokes. Although he does love Robbie, he's incapable of showing the sustained affection and respect the boy needs so badly, instead he buys him chips and tells jokes, not much of a substitute.


Robbie is denied access to the child, who's living with Leanne and her tough boyfriend, so he steals the kid and drives to Wales, where he meets a young girl called Nia (Charlene McKenna), who's been unable to talk since a serious trauma. The tabloids have a field day over the kidnapping and the police start to close-in on Robbie, who's hiding in a barn with baby Elliot. Hot on his heels as well is his dad, Joe (Ian Hart), who's desperate to re-connect and save their relationship.

This writing is clichéd, the plot is predictable and there's an enormous cop-out in the last act. The Welsh mute girl seemed to come right out of the book; "100 Movie Character Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of Yet!" Kyle Ward in the role of Robbie is assured and likable, which does help to a degree, but any sense of social realism, and any respect for the ambition of the film-makers, quickly disolves as sentimentality and an absurd tweeness become the order of the day. Films like this need to know immediatly if they'll be shown at 4pm as a kids' TV special, or at midnight on an Indie movie channel, while this one takes it's time figuring it out, it sits very much in the former camp (only with more naughty words).

A Boy Called Dad had the potential, at least as far as acting talent goes, to be something incredible. This year I've seen Andrea Arnold's, 'Fish Tank', an incredible film about life, love, revenge and wasted youth on a council estate in North London. I also saw 'Kicks', an intriguing, although flawed, film about obsession and kidnapping. Compare these other Brit films to A Boy Called Dad, and we're looking at the runt of the litter.

Four out of a possible 10, all for Kyle Ward, Ian Hart and Carlene McKenna - Good actors with mediocre material.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Not sure if the reviewer saw the same film as me or the rest of the audience in Edinburgh but A Boy Called Dad was genuinely moving, warm and emotional.

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

I think the writer of this review may have been watching a different film from myself at the Edinburgh film festival. The film was humourous and moving and had me hooked until the very end. Excellent acting from the new comer Kyle Ward and warmth and humour from the excellent Ian Hart. Great cinematography!

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

yea i ve only seen the trailer but it looks real good so far. this is the type of thing ken loach should have done instead of his latest film...

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mmoran (11 years ago) Reply

Social realism? What planet is this reviewer on? Can't a film just be about escapism? Who wants to watch another miserable British kitchen sink drama? Not me for sure. Life can be miserable enough without having to watch it on the big screen!!This film got me crying with tears of laughter and sadness AND had beautiful scenery into the bargain. What more could I want from a film.

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bballs (11 years ago) Reply

Nice film, agree with person above about the miserable ken loach but haven't seen cantona film yet. A BOy Called Dad is upbeat and funny, surprising considering what it's about! Tear jerker as well, my missus was crying for scotland!!!

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mizzunderstood (11 years ago) Reply

We also saw this film at the Edinburgh Film festival and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought the newcomer Kyle Ward was excellent in the role he played, and hope he goes on to bigger things!

It had me in tears too at the end, did he do it, didn't he do it.......

the baby was cute too. :-)

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Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

I to disagree with the reviewer as I watched this film at the festival and was captivated from start to finish. The performances were outstanding and the script and directing impecable. By the end of the film I had been through every emotion possible. I would recommend this film to everyone.

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quietearth (11 years ago) Reply

Considering the consistent posting of polite disagreements, can you guess how many of these people are friends of the people who made this film?

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AB Walsh (11 years ago) Reply

British TV drama, shaped by the demands of the half-hour soap opera, is simultaneously tawdry and melodramatic: a series of clashes and confrontations, a chain of Big Dramatic Scenes, with no space between them. A BOY CALLED DAD takes a similarly heightened approach to narrative, but the effect is worlds away from the cheap sensationalism of early evening soap opera. This is a lean, spare film, which focuses on location as much as it does on character; offsetting tense, twitchy hand-held close-ups of the characters’ faces with smooth, tracking long shots as they move through the film’s varying urban and rural landscapes. The effect is both to anchor the drama in a wider world, and also to provide sufficient space and quiet time to offset the story’s noisier dramatic flourishes, which are themselves often consciously underplayed. The film often presents its key moments of confrontation and revelation partially off screen, or in silence, focusing on face and body language rather than resorting to the habitual expository, explanatory dialogue and mannered shouting of British TV drama. Performances are low-key and naturalistic, and Kyle Ward is remarkable, both in his scenes with the always excellent Ian Hart, and also in those with the baby, which convey all of the anxieties and joys of fatherhood. Sure, the film has its flaws, and the above review goes into them at length. But in doing so it overlooks what is good. All faults considered, this remains a visually striking and emotionally powerful little film, filled with wry humour, pathos, and genuine tenderness. Its faults may be attributed perhaps to growing pains, as it attempts to shift British cinema away from the soap operatic take on social realism that characterises most attempts at “serious” film drama in the UK, and reaches towards something quieter, more contemplative, less prescriptive in the impressions it wishes to create in the audience.

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Matthew Ehlers (11 years ago) Reply

I wish more independent cinema was like A Boy Called Dad. Understated at times, but then gripping and full of life. Believable characters in real-life drama. I highly recommend.

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Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

pretty good

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Anonymous (10 years ago) Reply

A prolonged wank of a film, but whats wrong with that? Sometimes we need films like this to make us realise that we can do better and so should get up and do just that. Good acting, not so good script. I have heard a sequel is already being planned with old Eastenders favoutite Terry Raymond set to make an appearance as well as Curly Watts from Corri. Sounds like a first, a sequel being better than te original.

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projectcyclops (10 years ago) Reply

As this film was never picked up for a cinema release and has just been released on DVD in the UK, I can express a certain measure of vindication when The Guardian gives it 2/5 stars, and makes the same points I did about a good cast being wasted. All those positive comments were by people involved in the film as I contacted the production office to ask for some details about the cast.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/apr/29/a-boy-called-dad-review

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bob (7 years ago) Reply

So did he jump...??


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