We Canadians are often stereotyped as nice and polite, and even our bank robbers follow this pattern. Edwin Boyd is a biopic of Canada’s most famous thief, and it is a solid first feature, written and directed by Nathan Morlando. It follows a fairly standard biopic plot: we are introduced to Boyd (Scott Speedman), and his struggle to earn a living and provide for his wife and children after serving in WWII. He wants to be an actor and singer, but can’t afford classes. But what he does have is good looks and charm, and he uses those to rob banks. He is caught, jailed, breaks out of jail and forms the Boyd Gang, who wreaked havoc for years before being caught again.
Speedman continues to grow as an actor. The camera often rests on his face, and you can see the wheels turning in his eyes, not because Speedman has to work hard, but he wants the audience to understand Boyd’s thought process and how a good man can do bad things. Although spanning years, Canada appears in a perpetual state of winter, as if to add to the gang’s feeling of isolation and their drive to have a piece of life denied to them because of their socio-economic class. The film shows the robberies as barely controlled chaos, with Boyd in strange makeup dancing on the counter, and then in the intimacy of his bedroom with his strangely devoted wife, sans makeup, and still trying to find his place in this new world. In the 1950s, men returning from war often felt emasculated and shell-shocked, and for people like Boyd who have been deserted by the society they fought to protect, crime might seem a logical means of escape.
Edwin Boyd won the Skyy Vodka Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the festival.