Borstal Boy (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Borstal Boy (2002)

Borstal Boy (2002)

Borstal Boy



Critic Consensus: The sentimentality of Borstal Boy feels false in contrast to the gritty life of the actual Brendan Behan.

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Movie Info

Brendan Behan's famous memoir about his troubled youth formed the basis of this drama. Brendan (Shawn Hatosy) is a 16-year-old boy from Ireland who loathes the British and is eager to do something about it. Brendan sails into Liverpool, but is discovered to be carrying the makings of a bomb; he's soon placed under arrest and thrown into a borstal (British reform school), where he finds himself surrounded by a collection of tough-as-nails English delinquents. While his political beliefs don't change, Brendan learns to become more tolerant of others as he makes friends with a few of his fellow inmates, including Charlie (Danny Dyer), who dreams of sailing away some day, and Scottish Jock (Robin Laing). Brendan also has to deal with the pains of first love when he becomes infatuated with Liz (Eva Birthistle), the daughter of the school's master (Michael York). Borstal Boy marked the film debut of stage director Peter Sheridan, the brother of noted Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Peter Sheridan, Nye Heron
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 15, 2002
Strand Releasing - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Borstal Boy

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (19)

Behan's emotional growth and confused self-examination are ably conveyed by Hatosy's spirited and well-nuanced performance.

Full Review… | October 14, 2002
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Dripping with cliche and bypassing no opportunity to trivialize the material.

Full Review… | June 7, 2002
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Takes a clunky TV-movie approach to detailing a chapter in the life of the celebrated Irish playwright, poet and drinker.

May 2, 2002
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Well-made but mush-hearted.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A film that will probably please people already fascinated by Behan but leave everyone else yawning with admiration.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Serves as a powerful reminder that children have been willing to die for the hatred in which they've been schooled for a long time now.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Borstal Boy

A very nice story of young Brendan Behan that shows love sometimes is found in unexpected places. As with any movie with WWII as a backdrop, there is not always a lot of sunshine, but the sweetness of youth is demonstrated.

Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer


I think the average fan of Danny Dyer, may be a little disappointed with this film as he doesn?t play his stereotypical type of role. Performance-wise, it was a good surprise that the Actor wasn?t typecast, however it lacked any major excitement.

Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

This is a moving drama that *just* manages to veer away from being too preachy at the end, although it was a close call. Shawn Hatosy turns in an impressively understated performance.

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