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Song For A Raggy Boy review

The true story of how young inmates suffered horrific abuse at an all-boys Irish Reformatory School is clearly one that deserves to be told. Trouble is, the template for telling it here is every liberal-teacher-fights-the-system flick you've ever seen.

So what we get is an uneasy mix of The Magdalene Sisters and Dead Poets Society, with Aidan Quinn as the Spanish Civil War vet intent on improving the hapless urchins' lives through kindness and culture. Building to a shameless rip-off of Poets' hanky-soaking climax, the clichés rain down as heavily as the floggings dished out by Iain Glen's fascistic Brother John.

Good job, then, that there's some solid thesping and stark lensing to offset the surprise-free script. Quinn's accent may be dubious at best but his heart's definitely where it should be, while helmer Aisling Walsh grabs the emotions more than once by refusing to soft-pedal the boys' plight.

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