In the lead up to the 7th Canadian Film Festival in Australia (August 2012), join us as we countdown the Top 100 Canadian Films of the past 30 years. We'll be posting one film a day leading up to Canada Day on July 1st 2012. Do you agree with our team favourites? Let us know your thoughts!
#59 – Poor Boy’s Game
Danny Glover and the lesser known Sutherland, Rossif, star in this gritty urban boxing drama about prejudice and poverty. Donnie Rose (Rossif Sutherland) is a promising young white boxer who’s just been released from ten years in prison for beating a local black kid, Charlie, into permanent brain damage.
Upon Donnie’s release he’s a changed man (a long love affair with his black cell mate have changed his perspectives on racial and homophobic hatred). But the world outside doesn’t see it that way – Donnie’s brother wants him back as the hard case white trash he once was, while Charlie’s family and friends want revenge.
Champion local boxer Ossie Paris was a friend of Charlie’s, and he plans to take revenge upon Donnie by challenging him to a boxing match and beating him to death in the ring. Donnie seems resigned to this fate, until help steps in from an unlikely corner – Charlie’s father George, the boxing trainer who taught Ossie Paris, decides he’s going to train Donnie to help keep him alive in the ring; George wants no more violence committed in his son’s name.
In the build-up to the boxing match climax, Poor Boy’s Game touches on a raft of difficult issues – racial profiling and tension, domestic violence, misogyny, alcoholism, misdirected rage – shining a light on a side of Halifax, Nova Scotia, that’s rarely seen on film.
Rossif Sutherland is charismatic as the mumbling, glowering Donnie – you find it hard to believe that he could tie a man to a wall and beat his brains out (and indeed, perhaps he’s not that type of man after all…). Danny Glover really steals the show, though, as George Carvery – Glover takes the convoluted motivations of his character and turns him into a multifaceted man, driven simultaneously by rage, compassion, sadness and love.
Poor Boy’s Game’s themes of black and white urban poverty in a setting of dockyards and low-rent town houses brings to mind season two of The Wire, and it tells a powerful tale of poverty, hatred and race, despite its somewhat unconvincing premise of a father going to the aid of his son’s destroyer.
- Nick Jarvis
“Poor Boy's Game is a movie built around a boxing match, but its most powerful scenes involve no jabs or hooks.” Neil Genzlinger - New York Times
To see the other films in the countdown so far, click here.