the film where Danny Dyer plays a gay sailor
, 20 Jul 2013
This is the one where Danny Dyer (RUN FOR YOUR WIFE) plays a homosexual sailor. Set in the 1940s this is a loose re-telling of Irish poet and activist, Brendah Behan (SHAWN HATOSY BAD LIEUTENANT 2) time in a British borstal in the 1940s. The DVD cover tries to tell a different story with a big picture of Mr Dyer looking all hard in modern dress smoking a cigarette. Well, Danny Dyer playing a gay man is quite a hard sell but despite the overall quality of the film, its still one of his best performances to date. Now weve got the stunt casting out of the way, lets take a look at the rest of the film.
Brendan Behan was an IRA activist who grew a love of poetry whilst held in a UK borstal for trying to smuggle explosives into the country. In the process he falls in love with two people, Danny Dyers Charlie Milwall and Eva Birthistles (WAKE WOOD) Liz Joyce, the daughter of the warden (MICHAEL YORK LOGANS RUN). He attempts several escape attempts, writes lots, plays rugby, puts on a play just so that his mate, Danny Dyer can wear a dress and learns to love the English. Its all pretty inoffensive stuff. Even the borstal bad breed, Lee Ingleby (DOGHOUSE) is a cartoon cut out. Actually, Borstal Boy is so insipid and gentle it reminded me of 1970s comedies like It Aint Half Hot Mum or Dads Army. Even the controversial nature of a homosexual affair back in the 1940s is glossed over and has the hue of a Mills and Boon story. The American Shawn Hatosy does a fine Irish accent and he puts in a good performance but theres a way too much Irish twee and blarney on display, with whimsical pan pipes floating in over the soundtrack anytime he looks off whistfully into the distance. Danny Dyer takes an early risk by playing his only outwardly gay character and he again proves that given the right material to engage with he excels. This was filmed back in 2000, and is only being included because I bought a DVD that was published in 2010. I was watching it thinking how young Mr. Dyer looked. Haha.
All in all, Borstal Boy is nothing like the films its sellers / distributors are trying to offload. Its not If, and its not Scum, its not Offender, or even Ghosted. Its a made-for-TV strength dilly-dally in the park where nothing to raw, grim, brutal or borstal-like will ever happen. Its all a bit fey. Good performances alone dont get this out of trouble and its a shame to report that Borstal Boy could be the fluffiest jail movie ever made.
3.5 out of 10 Inoffensive, tame and safe, Borstal Boy is only notable for a strong early performance by Danny Dyer. I never thought Id see a softer prison movie than The Shawshank Redemption, but here it is and it makes the said Tim Robbins flick look like Romper Stomper.
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