Joshy Lee, Luciano D'Amato
Director Joshy Lee has a future in the industry if this is the level of detail he's looking to put onscreen - with the stories he chooses to tell. I love the gritty look of "Boy In The Corner" and how it's shot in black and white. I love how the man chooses to shoot his scenes and the visual scenery he shows us in the process; he has chosen wisely with the cast he's put into this film – you'd be hard-pressed to find something that he's overlooked, if I'm being honest. I'm also a fan of telling stories like this that are genuinely harder to tell. Films that can make us uncomfortable or hold the mirror back up to society and show us some things we might not be proud of - in pursuit of making a more significant point.
There are pivotal scenes that we need to see. Like the mom comforting her young son Myles towards the beginning of the film, chastising her kid over how he got the bruises on him, and hearing how necessary it was for Myles to take those lumps in standing up to racism and his friend being bullied. Far too many of us shrink away from those moments in life when we need to speak up, and even when you do choose to stand up, you can still catch trouble at home for doing the right thing. You can see how much it weighs on Myles' mind as he tries to navigate school life and be the kid he's supposed to be.
A real ominous cloud hangs over the beginning of this film that feels filled with menace, just waiting for an opportunity to break – and Joshy does a brilliant job of not instantly revealing just how dangerous this world can really be. Instead, he chooses to show how the breakdown of who we are and the morals we cling to as our compass dissolve in a much slower and thought-out way – like when Myles runs into a gang for the first time onscreen, the interaction is very unexpectedly pleasant. You see the impact of the kid's life at home and the many things beyond his control, like dealing with his mother trying to find love again or the fact that they're not exactly the most well-off family on the block. It's pieces of the puzzle like these that all play a role in what attracts youth into gang life. Joshy isn't glorifying anything; in my opinion, he deserves major credit for showing us how these things really happen and how the path of the straight and narrow can quickly become crooked and twisted by design. He shows us the power of money, the allure it has to youth, and the difference a single big meal from a fast food joint can be. All too often, we forget just how much of a luxury that can be to a kid growing up.
These things show the path to easy street, or so we'd think they would as a child. In contrast, Lee brilliantly shows you the awkwardness of what it's like to try and stay away from gang life. The difficulties of how youth programs try to recruit people and keep them from the streets – they're still strangers too at the end of the day, only they're not trying to line your pockets with cash and the promise of flashy clothes and cars—putting them all at a distinct disadvantage in trying to complete with what a gang could offer someone right quick. You see the pressures of Myles trying to navigate his young mother's quest to find someone new, how he has to be the protector of his sister and take care of her in his mother's absence, and thanks to Joshy's creative direction, we understand the toll all this takes on Myles. We want this kid to come out okay and make the right decisions for himself and his future ahead as viewers. But there's a real feeling that looms, like he will not be able to resist temptation by the end of this film. That's largely projection, and it comes from our own minds, as we realize we probably couldn't have resisted either - if we had to live through the tough times of life that Myles has. We spend a lot of time watching and hoping that Myles will be okay – because WE need that to be the case. The reality is kids worldwide have the experience Myles has, and they're not okay at all. We all do our best to resist temptation, and more often than not, we all find a way to fail that test. The only question afterward is whether we can discover our own redemption.
You see how the impact of gifts, money, and, most importantly, inclusion become the ultimate allure. Unfortunately, it doesn't take too long before the weight of expectations creeps in, and favors become commonplace in exchange for all that Myles is receiving. Joshy does an extraordinary job of visually showing how far kids can become involved before they realize or understand just how involved they truly are. If I'm being real with you, it's one of the most terrifying aspects you experience in "Boy In The Corner." It is not at all tough to put ourselves in the shoes of Myles and know we could have been him.
One hundred percent awesome job on the acting in this film. Myles (Cyran Vergara) is straight-up brilliant - to the point where this kid should win awards for what he's put into his role. Jaime (Shaun Pelayo) is another extraordinary find as the gang leader. Although we don't see nearly as much of her onscreen, Myles' mother, Maria (Victoria Shepherd), plays a crucial role in this story and does an outstanding job whenever we see her. What's seriously impressive is how much we can identify with all of these characters and what they're going through. We like characters like Jaime, we sympathize with Myles' mom and the life she's stuck in, and we feel empathy towards Myles at all times. The script is stunning, the direction is outstanding, and the message is undeniably important.
"Boy In The Corner" reveals the real process of the breakdown of the human spirit and documents how not all changes we make in our lives will be for the better or are even entirely within our control. Situations and circumstances play a huge role in who we turn out to be, often despite our best intentions and/or hopes of who we can become. "Boy In The Corner" is superb, full-stop. It's heartbreaking; it's raw, it's gritty, it's real – it's the kind of film you don't expect to find within the indie realm, along the lines of something as intense of a family drama as "Once Were Warriors" was back in the day. It's one of the best I've seen this year for its attention to detail, acting, and direction combined – Joshy Lee's made an incredible film to be proud of, and it's one that everybody should see – an easy four stars - and perhaps a little more.