Borstal Boy

6.81 h 31 min200118+
A sixteen year-old IRA foot soldier is imprisoned for a failed terrorist mission and is forced to live with "the enemy."
Peter Sheridan
Shawn HatosyMichael York
English [CC]
Audio languages
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4.4 out of 5 stars

304 global ratings

  1. 68% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Alan MontgomeryReviewed in the United States on November 22, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Historic and sad, but quite moving
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This is apparently based on a true story from WW2, It represents an era when gay lifestyle was not normal or appreciated. There is nothing graphic in this story beyond kissing. This is more about evolving love, love which must go unstated until it can't be. I had no idea what the ending would be, and I'm glad I didn't know, because it hits all the harder. (No spoiler here!)
5 people found this helpful
MSReviewed in the United States on February 14, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A fine film with genuine emotional performances
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I had seen this film listed on Amazon before but avoided it because of the setting in a reform school. I watched it because I've recently become a fan of Danny Dyer. I only came out a bigger fan. His performance was really touching and he projected real sincerity and humanity in his role as Charlie. Shawn Hatosy was great too. I'm a big fan of his role in Southland and was very impressed with this early performance. I think these two actors deserve much more recognition than they've received. Despite the fact that I saw the emotional ending coming, I was still very moved. A fine film. More proof low budget does not mean low quality.
12 people found this helpful
F. P. DunbarReviewed in the United States on December 22, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
Extraordinary Performance
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I bought this on Amazon, where it was mistakenly repesented as being in English. Shawn, who is Hungarian/Welsh and born in 1975, along with others speaks in some unintelligible - probably Irish/Gaelic accent, and there are no subtitles. Most of the dialogue is unintelligible, which is why I did not give it five stars. The plot is engaging, and the acting, especially Shawn's is amazing. He deserves an award for this peformance, which should have made him the star that he deserves to be. Since this is a low-budget, Irish film, it unfortunately did not gain the wide audience that it deserves. It should have caught on with the American Irish since it is mostly a historic biography. This is an excellent "Sleeper." Perhaps, with a bigger budget it could have been longer than 91 minutes; some scenes deserve more time and scenes of Brendan Behan's later life should have been added, which could have extended the movie the to the usual 2 hours. Scenes of Behan's later life would have been preferable to a few descriptive lines at the end saying that he died of alcoholism. After all, he was not only an Irish patriot, but an author of note. Too bad I could not understand most of what was being said. This defect made Hatosy's acting of even more importance. I cannot understand why there are no subtitles.
7 people found this helpful
Darien WellsReviewed in the United States on May 13, 2007
4.0 out of 5 stars
If you don't know what to say, say nothing at all
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First of all, I have not read the book from which this screenplay was taken. Therefore, I can't review it for accuracy, but I can tell you my feelings about the movie. It's the true story of Brendan Behan, (magnificently played by Shawn Hatosy), a sixteen year old Irish activist on a bombing mission from Ireland to Liverpool during the second world war. He is apprehended and imprisoned in Borstal, A reform institution for young offenders, in East Anglia England. Brendan, a self professed straight guy is forced at Borstal to live day in and day out with those he regarded as "the enemy", and is faced with coming to terms with his feelings for the Irish Republic Army, and his regard for his fellow man. While at Borstal he made a friend "Charlie" who was a gay soldier in the English Navy. Danny Dyer gave a wonderful performance in this role. Their friendship did not come easily, especially given the fact that Charlie was gay and had deep feelings for Brendan, not to mention his loyalty to the English for whom Brendan had low regards. Over time their friendship blossomed, but not as you may have imagined to this point. When given the chance, Charlie returned to the Navy and left Borstal, because he had come to the realization that Brendan would never be his, and their worlds could never co-exist.

Eventually, that all changed and Brendan came to realize the truth about his own feelings, but things might not be so easy for the two of them ever being together. The soundtrack for this film is great. The song "Is this the end of the road" is poignant and fitting for the way the story evolved. I will refrain from going into more detail, as not to give away the whole plot behind this film.

I had high hopes for this movie but those hopes were somewhat dashed mainly due to the poor sound quality, poor lighting and although the dialogue was in English, it was done with very heavy accents which made it very difficult to understand. This is one time I could have used a few subtitles to help follow along. The acting was great, casting was wonderful and I felt all the cast played their roles perfectly. Especially the main two characters. They were also very attractive which added a lot of appeal. I appreciated the fact that the soundtrack did not overshadow the script. Very moving, warm and emotional in every aspect. I really like this film and it is one I will watch over and over again, hoping to grasp more of it's content each time I view it. It is not the story of gay desire, lust, or pure hormones. It is rather the story of love between two characters who didn't expect it. Very thought provoking and leaves the viewer to realize that love is not to be feared, but seized while there is time.

As much as I personally liked the film, and it's leading actors, I felt it could have been a much better production with the proper sound and lighting, and maybe a bit more work on breaking the accents, or at least given a little assistance for those of us who speak Americanized English. 91 minutes long and I was captivated every moment of it. I give the script, casting and superb acting two thumbs up, however due to it's technical flaws, I'm rating it with 4 stars. Very good, but don't expect the quality to be all top notch. I do however recommend "Borstal Boy" for your viewing and hope you enjoy it's message as I did.
7 people found this helpful
Doyle K.Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very Good Film well Worth Watching!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this little film which presented the author's recollection of a period spent in the Borstal reform school in England (WWII timeframe). Lots of low level intrigue and mini-mysteries keep the plot moving through the very last scene. Impressive acting and production values. Some very darling characters without fitting the typical stereotypes. Homophobes may not respond but anyone with half a heart (especially a gay person) will get caught in the emotional game and be hooked. Notice that I didn't ruin the movie for you! Just watch and enjoy the unfolding of the plot.
2 people found this helpful
calvinywReviewed in the United States on April 1, 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
If you are gay, you will love this movie, and Shawn Hatosy.
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Brendan was an Irish teenager who got caught for transporting explosives for IRA and sent to juvenile correction prison. The gay version: There he met a gay sailor, slowly became friends, eventually realizing his love for the boy, only after it's all too late. The more mainstream version: He met a gay sailor named Charlie, and the warden's daughter Liz, felt attraction to both, realizing that love is stronger than hate.

Regardless of which version you prefer, this movie is more than a simple love story. It's a passage of how a boy learned to find himself, and to grow up to be a young man. The director handled the love between 2 boys with great taste. In the end, all they shared was just a kiss. But the love came across stronger and deeper than any gay movies I have seen so far where boys jump to bed faster than Chelsea queens.

Shawn Hatosy gave a great performance. He was very convincing as a 17-year-old Irish boy, and pretty good for the part as a boy slowly coming to terms with his homosexuality. The problem I have with his character has more to do with the inconsistency of the behavioral age. The inconsistency of his stutter is relatively a minor issue. But the character's behavior shifted back and forth between that of a teenager and a 20-something young man. The amazing part is, Shawn Hatosy is very convincing in all of them, if you took out each scene and look at them separately. But as a movie, that comes down as a flaw, probably more on the script/director part than Hatosy's acting skill.

Danny Dyer gave Charlie a personality that was funny, tender, sensitive, self-respecting and even a little cocky. It's quite refreshing after seeing most gay movies with an openly gay boy and an All-American boy coming to terms with his gayness. The openly gay one always come across overly sensitive and less confident.

I am a fan of Shawn Hatosy, well, since a couple of weeks ago. Watched "In & Out" & "John Q" long time ago and never noticed him, until when I watched "Soldier's Girl" a couple of weeks ago. He shined through with a stunning performance that surpassed the two leading actors. That's how it got me to see this movie. The characters in "Soldier's Girl" and "Borstal Boy" are so different that it really showed his talent and acting skills.

But I have to say that in this movie, Danny Dyer gave the better performance. He was so brilliant with his facial expression that he could simply convey all the feelings without saying a word. One of the most memorable moments, and the most heartbreaking one, is the farewell between Brendan and Charlie. No sad words, no tears, just a moment of closing his eyes. The pain was so deep that it just couldn't be expressed in words or tears.

As one reviewer said, "If you liked "Beautiful Thing", you will love this movie". I do feel this movie is better because it managed to avoid some of the cliché and sentimentality that are common to gay-themed movies including "Beautiful Thing". And the attraction and love between the two boys comes gradually and naturally, actually quite believable.

The music in general is ok. But as a reviewer pointed out, a modern pop song in 1930's story was just a little out of place, although the lyrics itself fits perfectly with the scene. ("The end of the road" played in the farewell scene).

Movie deserves a 4 and the DVD deserves a 1 star. No caption and no bonus material. But since the content is what counts, this DVD deserves a 4 star.

And in conclusion, if you are gay and like innocent love stories, you will love this movie, and Shawn Hatosy.
25 people found this helpful
webmakerReviewed in the United States on May 14, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is a good movie ...
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Although I don't think it ends as well as it should. Brendan Behan was one of those people who was literally larger than life. Although Irish, he loved England and the English, and many of his major theatrical accomplishments were in England or in the United States. He was originally a very junior member of the Irish Republican Army who was caught and sent to a Borstal (an English prison for boys) and there developed a strong relationship with an English boy named Charlie. The movie is their story.
2 people found this helpful
Kenneth A. NelsonReviewed in the United States on July 19, 2009
5.0 out of 5 stars
Warm. Winning. Wonderful & Worth the time to watch.
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It's difficult for me to not be emotionally involved and objective with this film because after viewing it, my emotions will forever be more accessible to stimuli supplied by a simple Love Story (gay, straight or both). I laughed, I cried... the closing scene produced deep sobs from a part of my soul untouched too long by too many films that came across as faked and/or shallow.

A wonderful story played by an amazingly talented group of actors.
One person found this helpful
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