Boy short film review

★★★★

Directed by: #AntonyAcheampong

Written by: #AntonyAcheampong

Starring: #SifaneleSityi, #SihleMnqwazana, #YuleMasiteng

Film Review by: Darren Tilby



Actor-turned Director Antony Acheampong’s beautifully realised directorial debut, short film Boy, may well be a tale we’re all accustomed to; an Oliver Twist-like piece that has graced our screens many times before. But, with its thoroughly South African twist, gorgeous cinematography, wholly contemporary retelling and fantastic performances, this is an exceptional little movie.


After running away from his abusive household, a young boy (known only as Boy) meets the aptly named, Young Man. Who, after rescuing Boy from his dire situation, takes him under his wing and teaches him how to survive on the poverty-ridden streets of South Africa.


Fronted by what may be my favourite debut (I think?) by a child actor since Haley Joel Osment dazzled us all in M. Knight Shyamalan’s, The Sixth Sense; Sifanele Sityi is genuinely spectacular as Boy. His is a performance with genuine emotional clout, one that shows great promise for this young boy’s future career in acting, should he choose to pursue one. The performances all-round are fantastic, though, and with the minimalist dialogue, teeming with sharp and to-the-point delivery, this is a movie, primarily, held together by the actors’ physical prowess.


While I feel Acheampong’s writing speaks primarily of its South African heritage (particularly with its heavy use of South African vernacular), and quite rightly so, there’s also a universality within how he tells the story, itself. Themes of inequality compelled me – being British – to instantly draw parallels with the class struggles of Victorian England: which, whether we like to admit it or not, is still rife throughout the United Kingdom. Indeed, Acheampong brilliant writing means this movie is enjoyable to almost any audience.


But what I particularly enjoyed here is Acheampong’s superb direction and how it complimented Warrick Le Sueur’s frankly stunning cinematography. The lighting is magnificent: The colours in the daytime scenes are vibrant and plentiful and during the night the deep blacks and rich blue hue, particularly towards the end of the movie, accentuate the ambience of painful inevitability that permeates throughout. Le Sueur’s composition is pitch-perfect, and he never once misses an opportunity to linger on something beautiful. That something beautiful is, usually, the breathtaking landscape of South Africa, itself. It’s exceptionally displayed, and Acheampong often contrasts its stunning beauty with the poverty-ridden cities our characters inhabit to great effect.


There’s not much to dislike about Boy: yes, it could be more original, or perhaps (and I don’t say this very often) a little longer. But overall, it’s an incredible piece of short filmmaking. With its solid construction, career-making lead performance and beautiful photography, Boy hits all the right notes.