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TIFF Next Wave: Boy 7

An adaptation of the Dutch novel by Mirjam Mous, Boy 7 is set in an alternate, police-state version of the Netherlands, where suppression of security and identity runs rampant. The story follows Sam (Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen), a young man who awakens on a train with amnesia, being pursued by a group of agents in the aftermath of a major government figure’s murder. As he slowly makes sense of the past events which have led to his situation, Sam must put together a plan to make things right, both within the context of his own life, and the society he is apart of.

The narrative makes extensive use of flashbacks, through a journal kept by Sam leading up to his memory loss. It is here that the key themes, namely security, survival, and repression of identity, come to the forefront. Director Lourens Blok represents these facets in redundant fashion, with almost no subtly to speak of, degrading their value in the process.

While its brief duration moves the story along swiftly, plot-wise the film feels like the Dutch response to the wave of teen dystopia adaptations, which have flooded international multiplexes since The Hunger Games became a hit in 2012. It attempts to mirror the style of such works by editing, cinematography, and its soundtrack – yet pales in comparison and at times feels like an overlong student film.

Despite being too contrived for adults to enjoy, Boy 7 is sure to entertain younger audiences through its high octane action and relatively fast pace. It may even convince them to pick up a classic piece of dystopian literature like 1984 or Fahrenheit 451.

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