Evil Genuis in the Making
Graham (Hugh O'Conor) is many things; a school pupil, the son of a working class father but he is also incredibly smart with an avid interest in chemistry and the power of poisons. The trouble is that Graham has no real moral compass and so when someone crosses him he gets his own back with a little extra poison here and there. It is why when his stepmother Molly (Ruth Sheen) humiliates him he laces some chocolates with poison to make her ill and then laces her medicine with Thallium to eventually kill her. Confident he has outsmarted everyone he eventually finds himself being caught and sent to a rehabilitation centre to cure him. But can someone as smart as Graham really be contained and will he find away of getting out.
I hate doing this but "The Young Poisoner's Handbook" is one of those movies you need to watch knowing the absolute minimum as any real revelations or hints at how a scene plays out will spoil the fun of it. Yes I did say fun as whilst "The Young Poisoner's Handbook" is based on a true story of Graham Young it is a black comedy and one which works at such a basic level that it works for everyone something which some black comedies don't with their off beat humour. Here the comedy isn't off beat it is built on a story which seems stranger than fiction and a performance.
That performance comes from Hugh O'Conor who delivers the superiority and smugness of Graham so perfectly that every word he utters and every look down his nose he gives makes you smile as he is so oblivious to how he comes across. In fact O'Conor who was around 20 when this was released and looking a lot younger delivers such an assured and confident performances that the rest of the cast are acting off of him and to be truthful are in his young shadow.
What this all boils down to is that "The Young Poisoner's Handbook" is a joy to watch as it is a black comedy which keeps things simple which makes it work for all who watch. And much of its success is down to the brilliant performance of Hugh O'Conor who brings to life the amoral nature of his character to the point of coming across like a young evil genius.