It takes a very good film to keep me watching until the end. I’ve become more discerning as I’ve grown older, and now I enjoy an interesting plot with good dialogue and not too many f-bombs or unnecessary sex/violence. Last night Sam and I watched ‘Foster Boy’, a 2019 courtroom drama based on Chicago lawyer Jay Paul Deratany’s litigation cases over 20 years, who has been fighting on behalf of children abused or killed while under the care of private foster care companies eager to make a profit.
Deratany based the character Jamal on a few of the children he has worked with. When Jamal meets lawyer Michael Trainer, he is an angry young man out for revenge on the manager of the foster care company that had sent him to many abusive families as a child. Jamal and Trainer hate each other on sight. Trainer has been forced to represent Jamal for no fee, and Jamal is certain that a rich three-piece suit wearer like Trainer (Jamal calls him ‘Three-Piece’) has no idea how the other half live. Trainer thinks Jamal is a thug and will settle out of court, but Jamal wants justice and refuses every offer of money.
An anonymous person starts to bring Michael Trainer information on which to build a court case. Trainer investigates the foster company, and discovers that they were paid $3000 dollars by the state every time Jamal’s placement broke down and he was sent to another home. Trainer is determined to win his case and find the person with the information on Jamal’s past so that hopefully they might agree to testify against the foster company in court.
I’m not going to give the ending away, but I will say that every time I looked at the judge it bothered me that I knew him from somewhere. It was only when the credits rolled that I realised he was Louis Gosset Junior, the fearsome Sergeant Foley in ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ nearly 40 years before.
This film was enthralling, but as it was based partly on truth it is a sad indication of how profiteering by private foster care companies impacts on the lives of vulnerable, powerless children. These children are sent by corrupt managers of private foster homes to known child abusers to be beaten and even raped, and the managers know that when the relationship breaks down they can then send them on to another abuser/rapist and receive even more money from the state. The character Jamal had been to 12 foster homes in his short life.
It’s an excellent film if you like courtroom dramas. There’s also a moral to the tale in that first impressions are not necessarily true. Thank goodness some kids get Jay Paul Deratany to fight their cases. My heart bleeds for the ones that do not.