One of the key films of the Free Cinema (kitchen sink) movement in Britain, sort of a translation of Italian neorealism to working class English settings. In this case, Tom Courtenay plays a young lad from Nottingham who finds himself sent to a reform school (borstal). There he catches the eye of the headmaster (an aging Michael Redgrave) who seeks to capitalize on Colin's (Courtenay's) nascent running skill for a big sports challenge with a local public school (i.e. private school in the UK system). The beautiful B&W cinematography often becomes lyrical on the boy's runs through the woods around the school, where we are also treated to flashbacks that tell the story of his home life: ailing dad, busy mum, first love, trouble with the law, ambition not to give in. This latter trait (which in later times would be manifest as punk rock perhaps) sets him up for conflict with the headmaster. Director Tony Richardson laces the film with jump cuts, jazz, and other touches borrowed from the concurrent French new wave - but these add rather than distract from the proceedings.