Directed by Peter Sheridan. Starring Shawn Hatosy, Danny Dyer, Eva Birthistle & Michael York.

As the Second World War rages, 16-year-old Brendan Behan (Hatosy) travels to England to take part in an IRA bombing mission. Arrested upon his arrival, he is sent to a Borstal in East Anglia. Driven by youthful pride and anti-British fury, Brendan is convinced that it is his duty to escape. But his Republican sentiments become diluted when he finds himself having to live and work with 'the enemy', under the benign regime of the Borstal Governor, Joyce (York). The young Irishman befriends a sailor Charlie (Dyer), sent to Borstal for theft, and Liz (Birthistle), the headstrong Governor's daughter who urges Brendan to better himself. As his relationships with Charlie and Liz deepen, Brendan's world is thrown into confusion.

A celebrated book from a legendary and notorious Dubliner, attempting to make a film adaptation of Behan's 'Borstal Boy' should be filed somewhere between folly and bravery. Yet Peter Sheridan (following his award winning short 'Girls On The Balcony'), has created a gentle and engrossing character study, charting the young Behan's voyage of self-discovery in an alien environment. The film is episodic by nature, a device which allows both the characters and friendships to develop without the viewer feeling that the plot is far fetched or that too much is happening too soon. While exploring the nature of Brendan and Danny's affection could have sent the film spiralling into sensationalism, Sheridan exacts understated performances from both American Hatosy (convincing, despite some lapses of accent) and Dyer (excellent as the Cockney charmer), allowing the dynamic of their relationship to shine.

Harry Guerin