I've been thinking for a while that after Hollywood stops trying to reinvent itself or more like cannibalizing itself by going back and remaking classics, mostly ruining classics, they should just look at the news, the really news, stop idolizing and picking on their own, and see what tragic or wonderful world, it can be. "Boy A" is a perfect example of what happens when the media gets a hold of a spectacular story, one that might be tragic or devastating, but it still offers enough drama to cast a spell on us. Write a good book about it ("In Cold Blood" comes to mind), adapt it into a couple of decent films, and you can certainly catch fire.
"Boy A" explores an obscure case in America, but apparently a very famous one in England, telling the story of a released convict who might have more than a few problems adapting back to society. It is essential that his identity remain secret because the consequences can be horrendous for all parties involved.
The audience's main concern at first appear to be whether the main character has been rehabilitated and is able to deal with his new freedom. Garfield's performance is so good, it brings to mind the vulnerability shown by Timothy Hutton in "Ordinary People", that of a bruised soul that is very strong but also quite close to an emotional collapse if not nurtured properly. Garfield's character is damaged from his early life to the abuse he suffers at the hand of his childhood friend, the one that eventually gets him in jail. It is not very clear how responsible he is for the crime that eventually incarcerated him, but what is clear is that he needs a lot of support, and any interference will be catastrophic.
In the end, we know there has to be some type of revelation, and it is the degree of the pain that the revelation brings that we want to see and we dread all the time. We grow to like this young man. Maybe because he might not be very different from many in our world, maybe because he is another victim of a cold and fractured society. The film will open wounds in many who have been disappointed and hurt, and it will mostly teach a few people a lesson about what we can do to prevent any more tragedies like these from occurring again.
It is an admirable achievement.