"A Boy Called Dad" is a curious movie, not because it is quirky or off-beat but because it is surprisingly compelling. Now that may not sound surprising except for the fact that its story never really goes anywhere in fact I am sitting here trying to work out what the point of the movie was. Yet I don't mean that in a nasty way because the acting, the camera work, Brian Percival's directing and vision is all brilliant and is why "A Boy Called Dad" ends up compelling yet when it is over you will be left wondering what was the point.
After a moment of passion with Leanne (Sacha Parkinson), 14 year old Robbie (Kyle Ward) becomes a dad although Leanne and their baby boy have nothing to do with him. It leaves Robbie in a bit of a turmoil which leads him back to his estranged father Joe (Ian Hart - Finding Neverland) who abandoned him and his mother at a young age. Slowly Robbie and Joe start to bond although Robbie realises that whilst his dad is fun he is also unreliable. But things get seriously messy when Robbie spots Leanne's boyfriend shouting at his baby and something in Robbie snaps.
To try and make sense of "A Boy Called Dad" you need to split it down because it is a movie of two halves with the first half being the one with most depth. After a snappy opening which sees Robbie becoming a dad the focus ends up on him getting to know his own dad Joe when they bump into each other. Now in fairness this is a cliche side as they have fun together, Joe lets Robbie down when he doesn't show up when promised and Robbie tries to understand why his father abandoned them. But at the same time the acting of Kyle Ward and Ian Hart is first rate and makes it compelling.
But then we get the scene where Robbie spots Leanne's boyfriend with his son and something snaps inside Robbie leading to a chain of events and a very different movie. Now I won't say what this different movie is but it is one which for me is very different to the first half, there is still some soul searching as Joe is forced to take a hard look at his life but the focus is no longer on the bonding between Joe and Robbie but on the drama. Yet again this second half is strangely compelling because of the wonderful performances with Kyle Ward, Ian Hart and Charlene McKenna as farmer's daughter Nia all delivering fascinating characters.
The trouble is that these two halves don't work together and seem too different which leaves you at the end of the movie wondering what the point was. Was this a movie about father-son bonding, was this a movie about responsibility, was it about a son not wanting to make the same mistakes as his father or was it about something else. I am still not 100% sure because it does seem to almost float along at times doing its own thing.
But I will say it again "A Boy Called Dad" is compelling, even when you are not sure where it is going you still find yourself watching, captivated by the performances and the whole look. You know some may say it is a cliche as the first half has this bleak often rainy look but it is a perfectly balanced bleakness which actually works well in contrast with the less bleak looking second half. Much of why that works is also down to some great locations which just add to that captivating quality.
What this all boils down to is that "A Boy Called Dad" is a curious movie because from a narrative point of view it is for me too meandery even lost and doesn't know what its purpose is. But yet it is captivating and even when you stop wondering where it is going you can't stop watching because of the acting and the whole look.