Both Sides of Forgiveness
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"POOR BOY'S GAME is a little film with a big message: hate can only be altered with forgiveness, remorse and redemption. The highly respected Jamaican director Clément Virgo (episodes on 'The Wire', 'The L Word', 'Soul Food', and films 'Love Comes Down', 'Lie With Me', etc) here takes on the tough subject of racism and the accompanying backlash of consequences and with co-writer Chaz Thorne produces a small but pungent film that touches many aspects of the schism between whites and blacks in the seemingly tranquil town of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Isolating the story in such an unlikely place serves to heighten the core problems the film addresses.
Donnie Rose (Rossif Sutherland) is released from prison, having served nine years for the brutal beating of Charles Carvery (K.C. Collins) which left the victim severely brain damaged. Upon release Donnie returns to his old neighborhood to live with his mother and find work as a security guard in a bar. Largely due to the bad influence of Donnie's belligerent and bigoted brother Keith (Greg Bryk), Donnie has to struggle with his family situation, trying to avoid the pain and guilt of his past while coping with his own dark secrets. His victim's father George (Danny Glover) stalks Donnie with the intent of killing him for the damage he has inflicted on both his son and wife (Tonya Lee Williams): the racial tension he encounters magnifies the underlying tragedy of the past - a factor both Donnie and George must face. Violence between the blacks and whites erupts and the resolution is to be decided in a boxing match between the superior boxer Ossie Paris (Flex Alexander) and Donnie. After a touching encounter following a tragedy, George and Donnie bond and George trains Donnie for the fight, the first sign of erasing racial tension. How the crucial fight preparations proceed and how the fight results from the resolution of the critical conflict that has eroded the town and these people forms the surprising closure of this story.
The cast is strong with the quiet lead from Danny Glover and the smoldering, conflicted Donnie by Rossif Sutherland (the fine young Canadian actor whose father is Donald Sutherland and whose half brother is Kiefer Sutherland). The film very quietly explores other conflicts, such as Donnie's sexual and emotional life with his black cell mate in prison, adding to the exploration of human behaviors that influence interpersonal schisms and barriers. This may be a low budget movie but it is a solid work well worth viewing. Grady Harp, March 08"
Looking at Tribalism
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Poor Boy's Game"
Looking at Tribalism
Donnie Rose (Rossif Sutherland) was sent to prison because a beat a young African-American guy up and left him disabled for the rest of his life. After spending nine years behind bars, he has been released and he is a different man but he has no place to go except for the neighborhood where he was raised. On the other side of town the African-American community wants revenge and have called for a fight between Ossie Paris (Flex Alexander) and Donnie, Donnie's family and friends insist that he participate. Donnie's victim's father, George Carvery (Danny Glover), has waited for nine years to get revenge. However when the two meet, they both realize that they want to forget the past. The rest of the community feels very differently and racism against Donnie begins to hit the boiling point. George and Donnie come together and force an alliance that causes them to be cast out by both sides as the others are bent on revenge. Donnie and George realize that their future will only be decided by what happens in the boxing ring.
This movie is an expose of the nature of tribalism and how people are unable to forget the past and get on with their lives. However, the premise of the film loses itself in a plot that has too many sub issues. The acting is excellent throughout but when there is so much going on that it is hard to follow, the film suffers. Looking at confusion and lack of borders on moral and psychological grounds, the movie succeeds. One issue that is handled tenderly is showing that the homosexual behavior in jail is contrasted with the straight behavior outside. Also, the relationship between black and white communities is handled well.
Some of the scenes will grip you and hold you. The way the black and white communities are shown, for example, lets us know that racism is far from dead. It is also touching to watch how Donnie was reformed and how he did not look back to the past. Rather, he rose above his past to attain redemption.
THE COMPLEXITY OF SIMPLICITY!
! MR. KNOW IT ALL ;-b | TRI STATE AREA | 10/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After watching a few "clunkers" involving boxing, I'm glad I stumbled upon this little known film! Poor Boy's Game is a pleasant surprise as it really has nothing to do with boxing and everything to do with choices, forgiveness, remorse and redemption! The story is told simply, but the film is full of interesting and "real" characters. Which is always welcome to film lovers, who just want to see good stories told well! Rossif Sutherland (Donald's other son) gives a quiet, but solid performance.... ditto Danny Glover.
I know a lot of film lovers are tired of "Hollywood" type films, but studios make movies based on what sells. whether it's an "over the top" action movie, a manipulative romantic comedy or predictable thriller......even bloody gore / horror films are a bit "Hollywood" in this day, as it is so over done, it doesn't even shock us anymore. If we want to see better films being made, start paying to see films like this! It's well worth your time and it's got a wonderful message, we all need to learn! I caught this on cable, so I can not make any comments about the DVD release."