Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - B

The Boys of St. Vincent Movie Review

brother lavin abused brothers

The Boys of St. Vincent is a hard-hitting Canadian drama set in a Newfoundland orphanage for boys run by the Catholic Brothers. But Brother Lavin, the orphanage's well-respected director, has a secret life with the children under his care. He uses them as sexual outlets and, if they reject his advances or his authority, he beats them until they require medical attention. The three-hour-plus plot revolves around Kevin, one of Brother Lavin's special boys, who runs away rather than submit to him. What happens next is the subject of a 15-year cover-up. Were children at the orphanage actually abused by the Brothers? Should the police have intervened more forcefully? Why did the Catholic authorities simply transfer the guilty Brothers rather than make them face criminal charges? The long-term effects of sexual abuse are finally being faced by international courts after decades of ignoring children's complaints against so-called pillars of the community, a theme which is strongly reinforced in The Boys of St. Vincent. The kids have no rights. They are harassed and intimidated by their abusers. Well-meaning social workers, detectives, friends, and family members are ineffectual. The drama also deals with the cyclical nature of child abuse, that the abused grow up to abuse others as well. One of the more likable of Kevin's fellow victims grows up to be a drug addict and a street hustler, and during his court appearance it is revealed that as a teenager he abused little boys half his age. We watch his horrifying and tragic descent from freckle-faced charmer to a broken man of 25 who would rather die than face himself. The script suggests that Brother Lavin, too, was abused as a child, but since we only see him as a menacing adult, filled with rage and self-pity, he has no claim whatever on our sympathy. Henry Czerny made the most of his 1993 role as Brother Lavin, subsequently attracting the attention of more than one Hollywood producer. (Follow-up projects included the indies Northern Extremes and When Night Is Falling, plus blockbusters like Clear and Present Danger and Mission: Impossible.) The timing of 1995's limited theatrical release of The Boys of St. Vincent was ironic, since Newt Gingrich seemed to feel that more orphanages were just what we needed at that point in his career as Speaker of the House. Viewers of The Boys of St. Vincent can weigh the pros and cons on THAT issue for themselves!

1993 186m/C CA Henry Czerny, Johnny Morina, Sebastian Spence, Brian Dodd, David Hewlett, Jonathan Lewis, Jeremy Keefe, Phillip Dinn, Brian Dooley, Greg Thomey, Michael Wade, Lise Roy, Timothy Webber, Kristine Demers, Ashley Billard, Sam Grana; D: John N. Smith; W: Sam Grana, John N. Smith, Des Walsh; C: Pierre Letarte; M: Neil Smolar. Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards ‘95: Best Foreign Film. VHS

The Brandon Teena Story Movie Review [next] [back] Boy Next Door Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or