Poor Boy's Game Clement Virgo

Poor Boy's Game Clement Virgo

The opening scenes of Poor Boy’s Game got my hopes up. As it intercut scenes of the prison violence of a white racist (Rossif Sutherland) with the black family of the young man he beat to the point of brain damage, I got the impression that the film might be uncompromising in its vision and dialectical in its analysis.

True, director Clement Virgo doesn’t quite know how to go for the throat — the pack of bullies who are Sutherland’s family don’t quite register as the vicious lot they are — but the script, which has the white protag released early to the displeasure of Halifax’s black community, seems to be ripping open raw wounds that Canadian films never have the stones to touch.

Alas, the film’s legs eventually give out. Once a black boxer (Flex Alexander) challenges Sutherland to a match, the film becomes a portrait of how revenge is no more helpful than the violence it inspires. But instead of becoming more complex it turns into conciliatory mush. For no apparent reason, the victim’s father (Danny Glover) helps train Sutherland for the fight, and from there on in the film pulls punches all over the place in support of a thin "can’t we all just get along?” message.

It’s like watching an Alan Clarke movie morph into an episode of Degrassi: the grim setting is merely the backdrop for Canadian nice-guy "social issue” tripe that soft-pedals the pain and flaunts its misguided good intentions.

The film completely runs out of credibility by the time of the climactic fight, delivers a coup de grace that had me rolling my eyes and left me once again cursing the knobs who make our country’s movies. (Seville)