The Boys of St. Vincent | Chicago Reader

The Boys of St. Vincent

This unforgettable two-part Canadian TV docudrama (1992) deals forcefully though not exploitatively with a very delicate subject—the sexual abuse and sadistic treatment of boys at a Catholic orphanage in Newfoundland by some of the religious brothers assigned to take care of them. Suggested by real-life events (and consequently held back from public broadcast while an investigation was under way), this work consists of two 95-minute features, both sensitively directed by John N. Smith and cogently written by Smith, Des Walsh, and Sam Grana. The first part focuses on the relationship between a key offender and a ten-year-old who's been singled out as “his boy,” leading to a complaint lodged by a janitor, a police investigation, and a hasty cover-up. The second part charts the reopening of the case 15 years later, when the offender, who's long since left the orphanage to become a respectable family man, is summoned to a hearing along with his victim and a key witness, both now young men. Neither homophobic nor psychologically pat in its approach, the film doesn't make the mistake of pretending to offer the last word on the subject and is most striking for the nuanced performance of Henry Czerny as the main offender, though all the acting is first-rate.

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