Look through the flaws of Foster Boy and there’s a hard-hitting legal drama revealing atrocities in the American foster care system. The movie is written by attorney-turned-screenwriter Jay Paul Deratany. Drawing on his own experience in law, the director has created a pretty powerful work, made all the more so for being based on true events.
Like many who go through foster care in America, Jamal Randolph (played by Shane Paul McGhie) has ended up abused, angry and in prison. The story follows his courtroom battle against the private corporation who managed his foster care and facilitated his abuse.
Jamal is paired up with Michael Trainer, a fairly stereotypically uncaring high-flying corporate lawyer (played by Matthew Modine). Both are unhappy with the partnership initially, but ultimately warm to each other.
This movie pulls the veil off a broken system, sharing an incredibly important message that absolutely needs to be heard. However, it is dressed up with hyperbole that is most likely designed to make the tale more dramatic and engaging, but ultimately has the opposite effect, pulling the audience out of reality and making them question what’s actually true. Certain events in the film just distract from the truth of it and the message that needs to be told.
There are a few other odd elements that just don’t quite work. The whole softening the heart of the cold suited-up lawyer narrative doesn’t feel super believable, perhaps because it just happens too quickly. And whenever a character cries, a literal flood of tears fall from their eyes, as if someone has been a bit trigger happy with the tear drops.
Get past all that though and this feature has some gripping and gut-wrenching moments that are worth watching. Shane Paul McGhie is phenomenal as Jamal with bursts of explosive anger, fits of stone-cold fear and depths of sadness. It’s a performance that dares the audience not to burst into tears themselves.
Foster Boy is not without its problems but it’s a decent film with a good message. Ignore the slight silliness and watch it for the message it carries.
Foster Boy is released digitally on demand on 1st March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Foster Boy here: