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The Boys of St. Vincent
The Boys of St Vincent
Actors: Henry Czerny, Johnny Morina, Brian Dooley, Philip Dinn, Brian Dodd
Director: John N. Smith
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2004     3hr 6min

Inside the walls of St. Vincent?s Orphanage, young boys fall victim to sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their guardians. Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Clear and Present Danger) gives a terrifying p...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Henry Czerny, Johnny Morina, Brian Dooley, Philip Dinn, Brian Dodd
Director: John N. Smith
Creators: John N. Smith, Claudio Luca, Colin Neale, Martine Allard, Nicole de Rochemont, Des Walsh, Sam Grana
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Religion
Studio: New Yorker Video
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Letterboxed
DVD Release Date: 09/28/2004
Original Release Date: 01/01/1994
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1994
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 3hr 6min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Fearsome
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 07/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Horror films as such have nothing on the THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT. Loosely based on the Roman Catholic child molestation scandals as they unfolded in Canada, this 1991 film was first show on Canadian television but later shown theatrically in the United States. Directed by John N. Smith, featuring an extraordinary cast, and boasting an excellent script, the film is one of the most fearsome experiences you could ever endure.The story falls into two parts, first offering a portrait of St. Vincent, a Catholic orphanage for boys, as it existed in the early 1970s; then presenting a portrait of the various characters some fifteen years later as the original accusations of child molestation and abuse result in a high profile court case. The film focuses on a number of characters, but most particularly on Henry Czerny, who begins the film as Brother Lavin of St. Vincent--a truly dangerous pedophile who uses his position to sate his desires while also looking the other way re abuse of children by other Brothers at the orphanage. When the scandal at last breaks around him, it is quickly hushed up by the authorities, and Lavin leaves the church. Some fifteen years later he is a respected businessman, a husband, and the father of two sons when the long-forgotten and covered-up case begins to explode relentlessly in the public eye.The cast is truly amazing here, chief among them Henry Czerny as Lavin, who creates a truly multilayered portrait of a man at once pitful but both vicious and dangerous. Equally amazing are the cast of children and their adult counterparts in the latter half of the film, most particularly Johnny Morina and Sebastian Spence, who play the role of Kevin as a child and an adult respectively.Perhaps the single most impressive accomplishment of the film is the delicate balancing act director Smith achieves, a stance which does not attack the Catholic Church as an institution but which relentlessly exposes the corruption that can exist within it. The film does contain some child nudity, all of it "back shots," and while some may find this in questionable taste it is all carefully filmed and not explotational--and indeed has the effect of further demonstrating the innocence of the children while emphasizing the evil of those who abuse them.Painful as the film it is, I cannot recommend it too strongly. It should be seen by every responsible adult, not simply for the artistry involved in its presentation, but for the warning it offers. A must see.--GFT (Amazon.com Reviewer)--"
A haunting masterpiece
RolloTomasi | California | 07/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Glowing superlatives are so common nowadays--especially those applied to less-than-deserving movies--that it sounds both trite and excessive to say that "The Boys of St. Vincent" is one of the most engrossing and indescribably powerful films I have ever seen.This is one time I'll risk sounding trite and excessive. A galvanizing drama of sprawling and intimate proportions, "The Boys of St. Vincent" tells the devastating story of several young boys at a Catholic orphanage and the priests who subjected them to years of physical and sexual abuse. The first half focuses on one particular ten-year-old, Kevin Reevey (Johnny Morina), who attempts to escape the sinister and violent affections of Brother Peter Lavin (Henry Czerny). A good-hearted janitor alerts the police, and an investigation begins--but forces above halt the proceedings for the sake of protecting St. Vincent's reputation. The second half begins fifteen years later, when the boys are all grown men, and documents their attempts to bring their abusers to trial, and expose the cover-up that delayed the cause of justice."The Boys of St. Vincent" tells its story so convincingly, and with such little display of effort, that it's easy to underestimate its effectiveness. As a horror story, it creates a claustrophobic environment dominated by a man who is both unspeakably evil and recognizably human--thanks to Czerny, who turns in a performance as terrifying as it is eerily complex. The actual molestation is depicted with enormous restraint, and although you are never left in doubt about exactly what is going on, the film leaves plenty to the imagination--and that, of course, makes it doubly appalling.What prevents "The Boys of St. Vincent" from sinking into standard issue-of-the-week fare is the way it brings the audience into identification with the victims. As portrayed by Morina and Sebastian Spence, Kevin Reevey comes across as so vulnerable and affecting that empathy with his character is no longer a choice--its a certainty. And that, in the end, is a fundamental aspect of all good storytelling; you know a movie's doing something right when your heart literally breaks for its characters.As if it weren't enough that this riveting three-hour chronicle (which doesn't have a slow or wasted moment from start to finish) does full justice to the vicious long-term ramifications of sexual abuse without ever falling back on stereotypes, "The Boys of St. Vincent" also manages to achieve a stunning lyricism that lingers long after the movie's over. There is little music throughout, except for a mournful Latin hymn that is repeated several times, sometimes accompanied by brief but startling scenes of abuse, sodomy, and other forms of severe mistreatment. The juxtaposition is not even remotely sacrilegious (although the film came under fire for its supposedly anti-Catholic stance), but it is as chilling in its implications as it is resonant. Moments like these, which take a headlong plunge into previously uncharted depths of human sin, are enough to weaken your faith in mankind as a whole. They are also enough to strengthen your faith in what a truly great film can accomplish."
This will make you an advocate for children's rights
Gypsy | 02/04/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Something not to read if you're alone. Most of the book made me angry at the adults who did not believe the children, and my heart broke that the children who asked for help were not avenged until many years later. The book is well written with the author keeping to the premis of the story and not straying with little stories or ramblings. The movie, based on the book, contained excellent acting, especially by Canadian native Henry Czerny., who coincidentally is my favorite actor. His portrayal of a pedofile was very realistic and convincing. No other actor would have been as perfect as he in this role (I wonder what emotional or mental problems Mr. Czerny suffered during and after filming this movie. If he has suffered any ill effects they are not apparent in his future movies). Again, this is a book (and movie) that will freeze your backbone and make you an advocate of children's rights. No other book written on the subject of child sexual abuse will be as compelling as this bok. END"
A Searing And Heartbreaking Portrait
Gypsy | Canada | 03/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Let me just say that this is possibly the finest Canadian film ever produced. And it also foreshadows the scandal that would hit the headlines in the US a decade later.

Although fictionalized, the movie is clearly based on the case of Mount Cashel Orpahange in Newfoundland in the 1970s. The investigation into allegations of abuse by the clergy against their young charges was hushed up. And, for fear of scandal, suppressed and brought to light some years later, igniting a media firestorm.

The performances of the cast could not have been better. Henry Czerny, as Brother Peter Lavin, manages to be both repulsive and strangely sympathetic at the same time. His dominating, abusive [...]control over the institution and the children makes his performance absolutely riveting. The other adult performers are perfectly matched, and the child actors are remarkable. When it airs on American TV, it is always heavily censored, so it is best to see it on Canadian channels, or better yet, on video and DVD. The portrayal of abuse is not overly graphic, but enough is shown so that the viewer can have no doubts as to what is taking place. When the police, headed by Detective Noseworthy (a terrific Brian Dooley) begin to investigate the abuse reports through social services, Lavin really gets nervous, but conceals this behind tremendous arrogance and defensiveness. [...] many of his fellow priests also harbor a sick desire for these young boys they are supposed to protect. Johnny Morina, Brian Dodd, Ashley Billard, Jonathan Lewis, and Jeremy Keefe are touchingly vulnerable as the kids who are constantly victimized and terrified by these supposed "Men Of God". The second half, picking up fifteen years later, has the abuse coming to public attention and the people involved being rounded up to bring the case to trial. Lavin, who left the order, has married and fathered two children, and denies the allegations when he is arrested. His wife (Lise Roy), as well as the public, is torn, not wanting to believe the Church clergymen could possibly commit such heinous atrocities and cover it up. The victims, now grown men, must face the traumas and begin the process of healing by testifying at trial and confronting the horror. Sebastian Spence, David Hewlett, and Timothy Webber perfectly capture the conflicting anguish of unhealed emotional scarring. And Lavin is advised to undergo psychiatric evaluation (suggested by his attorney), which reveals some sad and surprising experiences that he has had in his relatively loveless and repressed life. The scars of both perpetrator and victim are sensitively handled.

Difficult to watch, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and very worthwhile viewing. I recommend the book "Unholy Orders: Tragedy At Mount Cashel" by Michael Harris, regarding the actual case.

An important film."