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Borstal Boy
Borstal Boy
Actors: Shawn Hatosy, Danny Dyer, Lee Ingleby, Robin Laing, Eva Birthistle
Director: Peter Sheridan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2002     1hr 33min


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Movie Details

Actors: Shawn Hatosy, Danny Dyer, Lee Ingleby, Robin Laing, Eva Birthistle
Director: Peter Sheridan
Creators: Peter Sheridan, Arthur Lappin, Jim Sheridan, Judy Counihan, Nye Heron, Brendan Behan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/15/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Tender and true
M. FUSCO | NEW YORK, NY | 02/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This lovely little Irish film shines through the talent and beauty of its great ensemble of actors, bittersweet story, and intelligent script. Extraordinarily gifted Shawn Hatosy is perfect as youthful Irish author Brendan Behan (whose autobiographical book inspired this affecting movie). He was arrested for entering England as an IRA operative and sentenced to Borstal, a juvenile reformatory which is run by a most sympathetic Michael York. In fact, a hallmark of this film is its humanity (contrast this with the nastiness of ANY prison film made in the US).

Brendan meets Charlie, a young, openly gay sailor. The two take a shine to one another, but it is a while before Brendan can come to terms with loving another boy. When he finally does it is one of the tenderest moments on screen, and all too short-lived. He says later that he came to England because of hate, but he learned to love.

There are many wonderful moments with all the diverse boys (pink-cheeked Robin Laing is outstanding as a young Scot), and heartbreaking ones as well. The speech is sometimes problematic, as it is highly colloquial and heavily accented, but it is not really an obstacle. The film is logical and clear. I wanted to watch this beautiful story several times anyway, and was rewarded with a deeper understanding of much more than dialogue each time."
Disappointing film
Robert Brennan | Bristol, Ct. United States | 12/31/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)

"I was all ready to love this movie. I've been a fan of Shawn Hatosy since his debut role in "In and Out", and I thought he did a great job in the litle-seen "Outside Providence". In fact Shawn does a great job playing the lead in this movie, as 16 year old Brendan Behan, the Irish drinker with a writing problem on whose autobiographical novel this movie is based. Behan cut a wide and boistrous swath through literature and tv talk shows before dying in the 60's at age 41 of alcoholism. The message of this movie, which seems to be that it is better to love than to hate, is far too simplistic, and i'm pretty sure Behan is laughing loudly at it up in the celestial pub. As i said Shawn Hatosy proves once again what a great actor he is, although his character here does have a stutter that comes and goes at odd times. The main problem with the movie is the utter unrealism of it. After being caught smuggling explosives into liverpool from Ireland as an IRA operative, Behan is sent to an English reform school for boys because he is underage. There he encounters numerous movie cliches, including the big game, the seemingly out-of-reach love interest, the escape plot, and the we-all-can see it coming why can't they disaster (a clearly visible landmine on the beach). That last is especially egregious, because first-time director Peter Sheridan puts the scene into almost unending slow motion, complete with soldiers waving the unfortunate and seemingly blind victims away. The best scene is when Behan and his best mate finally kiss. But this is a mainstream movie, so we have to make Behan also fall in love with the headmaster's beautiful daughter, who preposterously mixes unsupervised with the inmates. (She is nowhere to be found in the book, folks.) Shawn Hatosy is the best thing in this movie; he is very believably as a 16-year-old Irish boy. I'm sure he will escape unscathed from this silly movie."
Wonderful movie but a dissappointing DVD package...
Nandang Abdul Rahman | Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia | 11/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Borstal Boy" is based on the book written by Irish playwriter/novelist Brendan Behan about his experiences in a British reform school (borstal) in 1930's. During this incarceration, as potrayed in the film, we see the young writer transformed from a creature of hate to one who realises that "love is much stronger than hate". I especially like the use of silent moments that convey more emotions that any line of dialogue. Special mention has to go to the main lead, Shawn Hatosy, who briliantly played his character. His potrayal of Brendan exudes quiet nobility as well as a touch of the rouge in the main protagonist. Definately his best performance so far and an indication of the potential of this young actor.The DVD package itself is quite simplistic with trailers of other Strand Releasing DVDs in as additional material on the disk. I wished that they would have a subtitle/captioning option as the movie uses a lot of Irish and British accents that are hard to make out sometimes.The sound quality is a bit on the dissapointing side as this DVD transfer only had mono sound on it. It's very distracting trying to figure out what they are saying especially when they don't have captioning. Good thing that the picture quality is clear and sharp for this transfer.My final grade for this movie is 5 stars for the film but 3 stars for this DVD package. This DVD is definitely a keeper for those who enjoyed reading "Angela's Ashes" as well as "At Swim, Two Boys". If you have the chance to see this release in a theater, don't miss it as the sound experience is much better than this DVD. Or else you have to just make do with a dissappointing DVD package of a great movie."
If you are gay, you will love this movie, and Shawn Hatosy.
calvinyw | NJ | 04/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Brendan was an Irish teenager who got caught for transporting explosives for IRA and sent to juvenile correction prison. The gay version: There he met a gay sailor, slowly became friends, eventually realizing his love for the boy, only after it's all too late. The more mainstream version: He met a gay sailor named Charlie, and the warden's daughter Liz, felt attraction to both, realizing that love is stronger than hate.

Regardless of which version you prefer, this movie is more than a simple love story. It's a passage of how a boy learned to find himself, and to grow up to be a young man. The director handled the love between 2 boys with great taste. In the end, all they shared was just a kiss. But the love came across stronger and deeper than any gay movies I have seen so far where boys jump to bed faster than Chelsea queens.

Shawn Hatosy gave a great performance. He was very convincing as a 17-year-old Irish boy, and pretty good for the part as a boy slowly coming to terms with his homosexuality. The problem I have with his character has more to do with the inconsistency of the behavioral age. The inconsistency of his stutter is relatively a minor issue. But the character's behavior shifted back and forth between that of a teenager and a 20-something young man. The amazing part is, Shawn Hatosy is very convincing in all of them, if you took out each scene and look at them separately. But as a movie, that comes down as a flaw, probably more on the script/director part than Hatosy's acting skill.

Danny Dyer gave Charlie a personality that was funny, tender, sensitive, self-respecting and even a little cocky. It's quite refreshing after seeing most gay movies with an openly gay boy and an All-American boy coming to terms with his gayness. The openly gay one always come across overly sensitive and less confident.

I am a fan of Shawn Hatosy, well, since a couple of weeks ago. Watched "In & Out" & "John Q" long time ago and never noticed him, until when I watched "Soldier's Girl" a couple of weeks ago. He shined through with a stunning performance that surpassed the two leading actors. That's how it got me to see this movie. The characters in "Soldier's Girl" and "Borstal Boy" are so different that it really showed his talent and acting skills.

But I have to say that in this movie, Danny Dyer gave the better performance. He was so brilliant with his facial expression that he could simply convey all the feelings without saying a word. One of the most memorable moments, and the most heartbreaking one, is the farewell between Brendan and Charlie. No sad words, no tears, just a moment of closing his eyes. The pain was so deep that it just couldn't be expressed in words or tears.

As one reviewer said, "If you liked "Beautiful Thing", you will love this movie". I do feel this movie is better because it managed to avoid some of the cliché and sentimentality that are common to gay-themed movies including "Beautiful Thing". And the attraction and love between the two boys comes gradually and naturally, actually quite believable.

The music in general is ok. But as a reviewer pointed out, a modern pop song in 1930's story was just a little out of place, although the lyrics itself fits perfectly with the scene. ("The end of the road" played in the farewell scene).

Movie deserves a 4 and the DVD deserves a 1 star. No caption and no bonus material. But since the content is what counts, this DVD deserves a 4 star.

And in conclusion, if you are gay and like innocent love stories, you will love this movie, and Shawn Hatosy.