Movie Review: Foster Boy

Movie Review: Foster Boy

7th November 2020 Off By Ewan Gleadow

Copyright: Gravitas Features

For the two Matthew Modine fans out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the man is still receiving gainful employment. That may be a surprise to many, most of whom will have remembered him fondly in Full Metal Jacket, surprised at his appearance in Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado, and bored to tears by absolutely everything else in between. Foster Boy is his latest piece, and on a night where I should really watch just about anything else available to me, I find myself trudging through this forgettable drama from director Youssef Delara. I expected nothing, and I received less than that. A film that has a very serious message at its core that should be handled with care, but of course, it’s handled with generic redundancy. 

Parallels are immediately drawn between our two protagonists, as if they weren’t obvious enough. The freewheeling lifestyle of an ignorant lawyer, Michael Trainer (Modine), and the troubled life of foster child Jamal Randolph (Shane Paul McGhie). It’s not interesting, and it’s far too obvious for it to make any form of emotional connection with its audience. Not immediately, anyway, and some good performances do try and steer us clear of any massively awful moments, but by then it’s far too little and way too late for any of it to matter.  

I don’t mind a good legal drama from time to time. The Verdict was an incredible turn for Paul Newman which saw the passion for cracking a case come from a man least prepared to do it. The Trial of the Chicago 7, for all its predictable Sorkin idioms, was a very enjoyable piece for the Netflix generation. Foster Boy, then, with its fifty shades of grey colour palette, its muted camerawork and its horribly redundant writing style. All the tropes of this genre are present, the lawyer with nothing but his work and a divided family, looking to hold together his personal arrangements with his ex-wife and son, but also crack the case of a kid he’s initially cold towards. It’s so flagrantly useless in what it wishes to do, sticking so close to a tried and tested formula, an insult not just to the audience but the stories the film bases itself off of.  

Whilst I hadn’t expected much from this piece, it’s amazing to see how low we can really go. Absolutely awful because of how amicable it is with its cast and its story. Completely banal, grey, mystifyingly obnoxious and forced. It tries to bring a divide of two different worlds together, but it does so in a way that feels predictable, lacking in heart, and contrived. Harmful, if anything, and a real shame too. Horrid flashbacks, and a modern-day that doesn’t feel interesting whatsoever. It’s the worst of both worlds with Foster Boy, completely flimsy, fumbling its way through a story that should’ve been handled with much more care.