We’ve all woken up and can’t remember what happened the day before. It’s called college. But when you wake up and you can’t remember anything at all from your entire life? Or when you wake up and you are running in a subway station and people are chasing you? That sort of thing only happens in the movies (sort of like Memento). BOY 7 is (confusedly) one of two films with that same exact title to come out this year (and with the same plot). Özgür Yildirim’s German version of Boy 7 (the original is Dutch) made its international premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival last night, and right now is my 2nd favorite film of the fest yet.
A slick and tense thriller, BOY 7 throws the audience in with a lead character that knows as little as they do. As our hero, the anonymously numbered ‘boy’ in question searches his pockets for clues as to who he is and what he is doing, they lead him back to a journal he hid, for himself. Soon he realizes he is not alone, as another numbered teen, finds herself in the same situation. Realizing they are part of some vast right-wing conspiracy, they work to finish the uprising they began before their memories were silenced.
BOY 7 speeds through its plot like a scifi “Run Lola Run,” rarely giving the audience the chance to catch up, which really works to its benefit because the world that’s developed is so distinct.
Sent to a reform school for students with special talents, talents like breaking computer firewalls, Boy 7 finds acceptance for the first time, but only if he follows the rules. The school, its hierarchy, and the vast array of students, mentors and instructors provide the most comprehensive backdrop since Hogwarts, not surprising since Boy 7 is also based on a young adult novel. There is flashback – the hero discovers the training they are receiving may not be purely for altruistic motives. In fact, the flashbacks to the Academy are so good, its almost disappointing to come out of them into real time. But that’s where the danger and forward momentum is.
If I had to be critical, I would say it’s a little unbelievable that our hero wrote so much of this down in his journal, every second of his day, but that even becomes fodder for a joke in the film, so I’ll give it a pass. Even with the typical flashback brakes on, BOY 7 never loses sight of the adrenaline rush of its opening seconds and also manages to work in a really fantastic love story. A satisfying end hopefully will mean a sequel to get in deeper to this world, or at least an American remake also called BOY 7 (can’t wait for that confusion).
BOY 7 just screened at Fantasia, and its next stop has not been announced… could it be Fantastic Fest? Or will they opt for the Dutch version? Or leave both of them for Other Worlds Austin to choose?