Shawn Hatosy, Michael York, Danny Dyer
Full screen; closed caption.
|Melodrama and turgid writing are the hallmarks of this fervid biopic about Irish writer and activist Brendan Behan's coming-of-age at a British reform school during World War II. On a 1942 bombing mission for the I.R.A., Behan is caught by British police in Liverpool and sentenced to a reformatory. There, he finds friendship, realizes a sexual awakening (with a fellow inmate and the warden's kindly, artistic daughter) and cultivates his love of writing and theater. Young American actor Shawn Hatosy, more suited to stateside B-movies about recalcitrant modern punks ("Outside Providence"), tries his best to give a decent performance as Behan at 16. He's adequate, but surrounded by an intrepid UK cast, including Michael York ("Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me") as the sympathetic warden. Danny Dyer plays the incarcerated gay sailor who's thrilled to be cast opposite Brendan in the school's all-male presentation of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." It's all too earnest.|