Poor Boy's Game ***1/2
Directed by Clément Virgo
I really don't think at any of the forty-five screenings that I saw at this year's Toronto Film Festival did I hear such a massive applause than I did at the end at "Poor Boy's Game," and the clapping went on well after the credits were completed. It was one of those things where when the director-Clement Virgo-came out, everything he said would get a clap. I did not encourage this because then we'd run out of time before we get to ask any questions. And when he said that it was getting picked up by our friends at THINKFILM (another applause), I was glad, because I haven't seen such a powerful, moving, and well made film in a while.
"Poor Boy's Game" is by class a boxing film, that that doesn't come into play until well after the hour mark. In the beginning we are introduced to George, played with subtle power by Danny Glover. George's son Charlie was beat up a few years back by Donnie Ross (played by Roffis Sutherland), and Donnie is just getting out of prison now. Charlie was left for dead, and is now mentally challenged. Donnie seems to have turned over a new leaf, but the black community has not even come close to forgiving him. Especially Ossie Paris, the best boxer around who challenged Donnie to a fight. Donnie accepts. With the help of his brother Keith (who is almost a bigger racist than Donnie was), as well as his sister in law who bonds with him on many levels, Donnie prepares for the fight, while struggling with more race conflict as the fight comes closer, and many other factors that get in the way.
"Poor Boy's Game" reminded me a little bit of another film at the festival that I trashed-"Normal." Someone got so mad at me because I trashed that film that they ended up writing a giant paragraph on the subject in response to me. I stated that even though the directors intentions were honorable to making the picture, the result still sucked. "Poor Boy's Game" takes a tragedy and mixes all these different characters, but there was actual conflict-believable and actual conflict. And there was emotion, swell acting all around-this is Glover's second film at the festival, the other being "Honeysucker" which I didn't get a chance to see-and he is making a comeback on a small level. Sutherland is almost amazing to watch, and when he came back from Q&A he got a standing ovation. And the ending is done on a rather predictable fashion, but on another level there is a twist I didn't see coming at all. It's probably the most perfect way to conclude this very moving story about race and tolerance and most of all forgiveness. This is one of the best movies I've seen all week.