Arts Desk

All Roads Film Festival: Boy, Reviewed

boy

Below, we review another movie from the ongoing All Roads Film Festival. Check back here all weekend for reviews of films showing on Saturday and Sunday.

Taika Cohen, the New Zealand-born director who got lauded by Variety as one of "ten new directors" to watch, brings us a  film about coming of age and Michael Jackson—but without a hint of irony or creepiness. Boy, the film's protagonist, is an 11-year-old Maori whose deadbeat dad left him and his little brother years ago. His favorite musician is Michael Jackson (it's 1984), and his main concerns involve impressing girls with his moonwalking and trying to take care of the household when the adults are away. That he's been abandoned is obvious, but Boy is convinced his father will return one day and take him to a Michael Jackson concert. True to his fantasizing, he does. But instead of being the iconic father-hero of his dreams, Boy's father (played by Cohen himself) is a total nightmare. The world of Boy is colorful and captivating, with the New Zealand scenery brightening each shot, regardless of the film's frequent tension. You grow to root for Boy, whose precociousness and wry humor doesn't hide the fact that he's only 11, and no matter how bright or fantastical his imagination may make his surroundings, reality will every now and then come crashing down.

Boy shows tonight at 7 p.m. at the National Geographic Museum as part of the All Roads Film Festival. $8-$10.

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