Most folks, I'd hazard to guess, wish once in a while for a do-over. The chance to remedy a mistake and re-set back to the default life path, off which we somehow ventured. A Life-Mulligan, available to help get us out of the rough we accidentally sliced ourselves into. Those opportunities rarely happen, of course. That's just not the way life works.
Boy A is the perfect example of why.
Boy A is the story of twenty-something man attempting to assimilate back into society after spending most of his childhood in a juvenile prison. Given a new identity, Jack struggles with the re-adjustment: he doesn't know how to socialize and isn't sure who to trust. He craves acceptance and love, but doesn't recognize those qualities easily. Jack's biggest challenge, though, is overcoming the feeling that he is being dishonest about who he really is to those friends and acquaintances he's made since being released.
The do-over was nice, but the emotional turmoil that results may be too difficult to overcome.
Andrew Garfield is brilliant in the role of Jack. Garfield succeeds in creating a character the audience can connect with and root for, despite the horrific act Jack was involved with earlier in his life. Jack is at once innocent, naive, curious, heroic and flawed. Deeply, deeply flawed. Garfield conveys those qualities to the audience in this movie as well as--or better than--any young actor working today.
With the new year upon us, Boy A is an appropriate reminder: we are a culmination of our life experience. Perhaps we should embrace and use those experiences to better ourselves, rather than attempt to change the very fabric of what makes up our identity.
Life-Mulligans are, all too often, simply McGuffins anyway.