Written and directed by Joshy Lee, co-written by Luciano Piero D’Amato, the backward system of society pushes another dream-filled boy to the curb, with his aspiration suppressed, he is at risk of falling into the attractive arms of gang life. Starring: Cyran Vergara, Victoria Shepherd, Akil Largie, Shaun Pelayo, Solly McLeod, Ewan Perry, Luka Arpino Pereira and Jon-Paul Gates.
The progression of society can sometimes feel like one step forward and two steps back, there’s positive change but then there’s still a vicious cycle of poverty, violence, drugs and prison. Boy in the Corner taps into how young men, at their most vulnerable, get so easily drawn into that cycle. It’s one of many violent behaviours that teenage boys are sent astray by, following the simple logic of offering money, power or popularity, whichever they may be most desperate for. It’s a poignant, harsh topic and it doesn’t feel like this film is matching with that tone.
Joshy Lee and Luciano Piero D’Amato’s story deals less with the gritty side of things and more with the sentimental side. It’s approaching the issue with an intensely accessible perspective and that unfortunately makes it lose its edge of realism. It tends to revisit the same point and isn’t developing its story as much as it had the time to do. There are some nice choices made along the lines of responsible behaviour and support but it doesn’t truly drive home the dangerous, life-alerting potential of entering that gang lifestyle.
It’s an issue which then is deepened by the style of direction, cinematography and editing. The choice of black and white leans into that sentimentality, as well as its overuse of slow-motion. Lee implements a lot of pensively styled shots which, while shot well, don’t have a great deal to add to the emotion of the film. Also, missing that development to its plot means that it moves quite slowly, it had the chance to add additional risk, depth and consequences but remains within a fairly safe arena.
Cyran Vergara leads the story well as Myles, capturing all of the typical teenage frustration and envy. He also does a great job of portraying brotherly love, and the deeply protective mindset that can come from an underprivileged household. There’s a constant attempt to keep the youngest as blissfully unaware of the struggle as possible. Ewan Perry and Luka Arpino Pereira nicely round out their trio, they’re kind and supportive, take notice of Myles’ changing behaviour. While still presenting themselves as typical teenage boys in their banter.
Creating the manipulative, false compassion is done very well by Shaun Pelayo. Akil Largie adds a solid presence, the character himself is a touch stereotypical but Largie plays against that and still makes him convincing. Perhaps the weak spots within the cast are with Victoria Shepherd and Jon-Paul Gates. Gates is simply given a character that’s been done so many times before, there isn’t anything new to add. Shepherd on the other hand struggles to create a sincere emotion, the performance comes off too cliched.
Boy in the Corner tries to tackle an issue that feels like a bigger challenge than it was ready to accept. The style and tone approach the topic with such a young, sentimental tone that it can’t grasp onto the poignancy and importance of it. It’s so focused on reflecting the perspective of its leading character that it isn’t taking the time to build a larger plot or an atmosphere which captures the danger, violence and exploitation.