The story of PINOCCHIO is, like most fairy tales before they go into the Magical Disney Cleaning Machine, kind of fucked up. For instance, in the original tale, Pinocchio throws a hammer at the talking cricket, "accidentally" killing him. Also, one night Pinocchio falls asleep in front of the fire and burns his own feet off because he was drunk. And yet, no matter what heinous cricket-killing crime of passion or subconscious act of self-mutilation (NO ONE UNDERSTANDS HIM) Pinocchio commits, his father Geppetto never once gives up on the boy that he believes his murderous, self-torturing wooden child could be.
Based on the novel written by Jonathan Trigell and adapted for the screen by Mark O'Rowe, Boy A finds its own Pinocchio in the character of Jack Burridge (played with an incredible broken vulnerability by Andrew Garfield). Convicted of an unforgivable crime as a child, Jack, now aged 24, has just been released from prison under the watchful eye of his kind, emotionally invested social worker Terry (Peter Mullan).
Director John Crowley slowly and deliberately releases the details of Jack's crime, through flashbacks and quiet, intense conversations between Jack and Terry. But for every step forward in Jack's quest to become, for lack of a better term, a real boy, Crowley lets us peek into the past of "Boy A" (the name given to Jack by the English courts in order to protect his identity), lending a certain impending doom to Jack's cautious, budding hopefulness. Although Jack does achieve a sort of redemption, his journey ends at the seaside, in an inevitable, fucked-up denouement worthy of any old-world fairy tale.