Eye For Film >> Movies >> A Boy Called Dad (2009) Film Review
A Boy Called Dad
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
It is not A Man Called Horse, but it’s getting there. Titles matter. This one curls the toes, but thanks to Kyle Ward’s strong central performance the film is saved - just.
Julie Rutterford’s script follows the clichés, even mirrors Whistle Down The Wind at one point. Isolated country folk have dodgy sexual preferences (perhaps they lack alternatives). A fun dad, who ran out on mum, isn’t to be trusted (charm goes only so far before the jokes start repeating).
The plot is reality lite. Thirteen-year-old Robbie (Ward) goes all the way for the first time with Leanne, the sexiest girl at school. She becomes pregnant, has the baby and starts hanging out with Stevie, who fancies himself as a hard boy. This takes less than five minutes of screen time. Robbie and Leanne avoid each other. The baby Elliott cries a lot, which annoys Leanne and infuriates Stevie. Meanwhile Robbie’s dad Joe (Ian Hart) has turned up in a battered van. He says he lives in Ireland, which (we learn later) is a lie and spends too much time in the betting shop. He’s a bit of a lad, which Robbie goes along with, because it’s more entertaining than drifting around New Brighton with toss all to do. Robbie’s mum can’t be told about Joe, of course.
The father/son bonding is the most likely theme in town until Robbie attacks Stevie in the bog because he’s shouting at Elliott and Stevie pulls a gun and ends up shooting himself by mistake (not fatal, only incredible) and Robbie snatches Elliott and scarpers. Theme # 2 kicks in – Kid On The Run With Baby – a gift for the tabloids.
The Whistle Down The Wind episode involves Rob’n’El hiding out in a barn, being helped by a mentally delicate farmer’s daughter (Charlene McKenna). Sentimentality is rough hewn and barely sophisticated, given the storyline, but the performances are first rate and director Brian Percival’s use of landscape reflects his training in commercials.
Rutterford’s attempt at gritty realism doesn’t advance beyond dialogue. There are no surprises, except the character of Stevie, who arrives fully formed from the Make It Up As You Go Along box, and the ending has been accepted into the next edition of The History Of Failed Finales as a classic humclanger.Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2009