The story follows boy A, named Jack Burridge (an impressive, break-out performance by Andrew Garfield) who’s just become of age, and is released from the juvenile detention center he’s been living in for years. It’s not immediately clear why he’s been incarcerated (unless you saw a trailer or preview), but that story unfolds in well done flashbacks throughout the movie. After he’s released, Jack chooses his own name, and he’s assisted into his new life by a man named Terry (Peter Mullan), who neglects his own waste-of-space son in favor of Jack. Things seem to go swimmingly in Jack’s new town. He gets a decent job, a cell phone, a place to live, a girlfriend Michelle (Katie Lyon), he even saves the life of a local girl involved in a car accident. But the publicity from the accident brings unwanted attention to Jack, and his secret is soon in danger of being found out.
The back story to boy A is intensely dark. When he was young, he got involved with a punk that had been shat on one too many times, and decided to start fighting back. The reason boy A was locked up for so long is because with his friend, they murdered a little girl. It’s unclear what provoked the attack until the very end of the film. For the length of the film, you’ll be torn about where your empathy lies. It’s understandable why the public is outraged Jack is secretly released into society, it’s understandable that Jack should be able to live down his sins after he’s paid his debt to society. It’s really some very thought provoking material, traveling through the psyche of a damaged youth. Director John Crowley expertly plays on these themes and it’s a fascinating ride. This film is worth watching.