A legal thriller about foster care available for digital download from 1st March, Foster Boy, is based on the true story of foster care victim Jamal Randolph (Shane Paul McGhie) who wants to take a for-profit foster care company to court for the abuse he received in their homes.
Written by Jay Paul Deratany and based on his experiences as a trial lawyer, the story begins with Jamal, in court for another misdemeanour and as the judge (played by Oscar winner Louis Gosset Jnr) puts it, he has seen him more times than his own grandchildren, we imagine this is just another social misfit stuck in a cycle of repeat offences. But the judge notices the boy has another case pending against a foster care company, which until now there hadn’t been a lawyer to represent him. Step up reluctant attorney Michael Trainer (Matthew Modine – Stranger Things), a high flying corporate lawyer just leaving the courtroom after winning another lucrative litigation, when he is hauled back by the judge and told to work pro bono i.e. for a client who can’t afford it, and fight for the young offender’s civil action case.
These two, from very opposite sides of the track, are forced into an alliance. We find the win at all costs lawyer and the foster care ‘thug’ who refused to take a $50,000 pay off, are capable of healing one another. As we delve deeper into the case the kid has genuine grounds to claim negligence against the privately run foster care company who had put a violent sexual offender into the same foster home as him. The problem is, can he testify with his PTSD symptoms and is there any concrete evidence to convince the jury?
They’re up against a corporate foster care company that makes money taking contracts from the state to find homes for kids, a very nice little earner they will do anything to protect. When their initial pretrial payment is turned down they begin with stronger tactics approaching Jamal’s lawyer to see if they can come to a favourable arrangement but when an even higher offer is rejected they find out this case isn’t about the money. Their tactics become more unsavoury as they try to scare off the opposition and show an unnerving level of power and influence as a series of unfortunate events follow.
The producer of the film, Peter Samuelson, is the founder of First Star, a charity that gives academic support to young adults in the care system. The statistics are clear on how coming from a disadvantaged background or without a stable family affects people’s futures. The lead Shane Paul McGhie corresponded with some of the kids who helped him prepare for the role and his performance made sure that whilst being a victim of horrendous circumstances he came through it showing great strength. Perhaps in the end the courtroom battle is a little too cliched as a film dramatisation with its don’t judge people by appearances message but it’s a heartwarming attempt to tell the story.
Film: Foster Boy
Director: Youssef Delara
Stars: Matthew Modine, Shane Paul McGhie, Louis Gossett Jr., Julie Benz
Genre: Drama / Thriller
Run time: 1hr 49min