Boy A is a 2007 British film adaptation of Jonathan Trigell's critically acclaimed novel of the same name which shares some similarities with the notorious James Patrick Bulger case. The film premiered at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival.
We first meet Boy A (Andrew Garfield), Eric Wilson, as he is released from prison under the name Jack Burridge. His past is told through flashbacks.
Eric Wilson (Alfie Owen) befriends Philip Craig who is a troublemaker who rescues Eric from a group of bullies. It is later disclosed that Philip is the victim of rape perpetrated by his older brother. Philip gets into an argument with a girl from their school who comes across the two boys loitering in a park. She criticizes them and refers to them as "scum" when she witnesses Philip vandalising a park sign with a Stanley knife. Philip approaches her and starts slashing at her forearms with the knife. He grabs the girl and drags her under a bridge. When Philip drops the knife, Eric picks it up, and follows them under the bridge. The girl is killed, although the film shows neither who kills her nor how.
Eric (dubbed as Boy A during the trial) and Philip are remanded into custody. Philip dies in prison, assumed to be suicide, but Eric believes that he may have been killed by other inmates. Eric is later released from prison and is guided by rehabilitation worker Terry (Peter Mullan). Eric, shy and eager to be a good citizen again, builds up a new life under the name Jack Burridge. He finds a job, befriends his colleague Chris (Shaun Evans), falls in love with the office girl, Michelle (Katie Lyons), and rescues a little girl who would otherwise have died after a car crash. An article in a local newspaper portrays him as a hero and includes a picture of both boys in the story. Jack wants to be honest with Michelle and reveal his past, but Terry urges him not to do so because it is too dangerous. Terry is afraid that people may attack Jack because there is a reward of £20,000 for finding him. Terry argues that it is not dishonest because Eric is history and Jack is a new person.
The rehabilitation worker is less satisfied with his own son. The son discovers Jack's past identity from newspaper articles about Eric being released, Jack's new role as a the hero, the fact that his father once accidentally calls him Eric, and information he looks up without permission on his father's computer. Out of jealousy, he reveals this to the public. As a result Jack loses his job and his best friend Chris distances himself from him. Michelle goes missing, and people suspect that Jack is somehow involved, though it is later revealed she has sequestered herself at home, devastated about the revelation that Jack is actually Eric.
Jack repeatedly tries to phone Terry but gets his voicemail. He flees from his home to avoid reporters and travels to Blackpool. There he imagines that he meets Michelle, who tells him she was not the one who revealed Jack's past and would have eventually understood if he told her the truth, and then leaves. After saying farewell messages in voicemails to Terry and Chris, the film concludes with Jack standing over the edge of a pier.
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