Edinburgh Film Festival: A Boy Called Dad and I’m Gonna Explode reviews

Carl checks out a pair of underwhelming films at the Edinburgh International Film Festival...

A Boy Called Dad

First up on the slate is A Boy Called Dad. The film focuses on 14-year-old Robbie, played by newcomer Kyle Ward, who has just had a son with a girl from school who he hardly knows. The girl wants nothing to do with him, instead opting to live with an aggressive, dangerous older teenage boy, and Robbie is reluctant to get involved. His own dad left when he was very young, and he hasn’t seen him since, while living with his mother. Needless to say, the plot has these elements collide in an obtuse and unwarranted metaphorical mess.

Robbie meets his dad by a ridiculous chance, and they start palling around as if he never left. It takes half the film for him to be stood up by his dad one too many times and it leaves Robbie feeling angry. So when he sees his baby’s mother’s boyfriend shouting at the baby and throwing his baby car seat to the ground, he attacks him and steals the baby. That’s where the film gets ropey. From here on, A Boy Called Dad is a mess of needless characters, a completely underhanded misogynistic tone and an awful shock and awe ending.

Each female character is seen to be weak; Robbie’s mother’s scenes in the film mainly consist of her crying; his child’s mother scared of her own boyfriend; a girl he meets along the way is timid and abused; his grandmother is seen as a bad person for getting beaten up. Talking of the girl he meets in the extremely long and useless middle section, never was there a more needless character to steal time from the plot, while having pretty much no consequence on the overall outcome of the film. Sure, her story was sad and the girl playing her was a good actress, but her position in the film is very unclear and she just seems to wander into the film and wander back out again as if she was never there.

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Not only is the ending a shock and awe spot on piece of utter nonsense, it also leaves a huge gaping hole of ‘why?’ on the mind. It’s not the first time it happens in the film either, with at least three instances of trying to build up tension and worry in the viewer, failing, and then reassuring the apparently very stupid audience that everything is fine, yet again. It’s a shame that the first 20 minutes of the film isn’t that bad, as it further ruins any chance of getting praise from me at every turn with its constant disregard for good structure, the female characters and just general lazy writing. The more I think about this film, the more it burns me up with a searing hatred.

I’m Gonna Explode

Now we have a film that at least has the potential to be better, right? Well, let’s see… we have a character who steals away another character, with an extremely long middle section and a hit and miss ending. Sound a little familiar?

Anyway, this is the film of Roman and Maru, who each have their own hardships to deal with. Roman is the son of a congressman, who is left jaded after his mother dies, and frequently gets expelled from every school he attends. Maru is the daughter of a single mother, who has a lot of trouble keeping up in school. The two collide in detention after Roman pretends to hang himself for a school performance, and Maru is the only one to clap. This set up is adorable and lightly funny yet dark, and had me swept away, enjoying every minute. However, when they hatch a plan to run away from home, and we see the execution of the plan occur, the film drags on for about an hour without any sense of moving forward.

Without any drive or anything like the dark yet funny set up, the film becomes a bit of a chore to stay awake watching.

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When it comes to the eventful ending, the film definitely picks up the pace and dark tone well, but still has me yawning from the incredibly long snail’s pace middle section. It left me feeling un-cared for by the creators, and I didn’t really care much what happened to either character.

The ending wasn’t necessarily bad, but it didn’t take away from how much I disliked the entire middle section and how it really became pointless after a certain point.

It’s a real shame that this film had so much promise, but squandered it on an extremely boring plot design and ruined the ending through the process. Maybe if there’s a director’s cut with half of the middle cut out, the film might get a three star rating, but until that day…

More EIFF round-up is on the way from Carl.


1 out of 5