Michael (Joshua Griffin) is a mentally-challenged teenager living in London. Michael is slowly trying to understand the world around him as his parents, Polly (Ellie Piercy) and Adio (Derek Elroy), pensively listen to the news of another terrorist attack by a Christian White supremacist group. Michael asks why the suicide bomber screams “Glory to God” as their final words.
Meanwhile, in another part, a tormented adult, Stephen (Shuan Mason), is being groomed by his leaders to be the next bomber with a constant stream of hate-filled rhetoric. Unfortunately, Michael and his father find themselves later that day at the same shopping mall as Stephen, just as he prepares his final late statement.
…a mentally-challenged teenager…trying to understand the world around him…”
If there is a criticism of The Stupid Boy, it’s that its story is extreme. But can you fault the intention and overall message? The film asks what it will take to stop the senseless violence. Can a simple act of love change the course of a mighty river of violence and hate? Or do we sit back and wait for politicians to solve the world’s problems? Yes, the conclusions are extreme, but what other options are left?
Sermonizing aside, The Stupid Boy is a poignant film with a social message. Filmmaker Phil Dunn walks us down two contrasting paths in Michael and Stephen and makes its point when they ultimately intersect. Its commentary on grooming for both characters stood out to me in a way I never considered. Joshua Griffin plays Michael with a great deal of sensitivity, which is a monumental task when playing someone with a disability. Production-wise, The Stupid Boy is top-notch and looks professional from start to finish. The camera work in the final moments was perfect, giving the story as much of an authentic feel as possible.
Phil Dunn’s The Stupid Boy walks a delicate tightrope telling a story of hope from an unlikely source without ever feeling preachy or fantastical. Maybe the world’s problems will not be solved by dividing us, but when someone is brave enough to cross that divide.
For more information, visit The Stupid Boy official website.