When We Were Boys

At an elite private boys’ school, students make and lose friends, create a pecking order, and begin their indi­vidual paths to manhood. The adoles­cent culture of boys lies beneath the surface, an emo­tional world often unspoken to each other or to the adults around them. The boys and the adults some­times seem to exist on separate planes. “To whom much is given, much is expected” is impressed upon this priv­ileged group, but their thoughts are elsewhere.

In the school­yard they are still boys — throwing snow­balls at each other and rough­housing. They whisper at the back of the class and run through the halls when they should be studying. In the choir, their voices are begin­ning to crack, and in the cafet­eria the con­ver­sa­tions turn more and more to girls. One moment, they seem like children, the next like the men they will become. The film gradu­ally centres on the friend­ship of two boys — Noah and Colin — best friends since grade school. Noah is a sincere, polite boy, the star of the choir; Colin is a charming trouble­maker who makes the choirmaster’s life difficult.

Colin and Noah hang out at each other’s houses as a matter of course, but as adoles­cence kicks in their dif­fer­ences become mag­ni­fied and they drift apart. Meanwhile, school life goes on: there is the spring dance; grade eight gradu­ation; a class trip to Spain; sum­mer­time diver­sions. Grade nine begins, and Colin seems more inter­ested in his new friends. They study Lord of the Flies in English class, while in the lun­ch­room Noah becomes the odd man out. The boys are defining them­selves in contrast to each other: Who is cooler? Who is doing what? Who is growing up faster? As the film pro­gresses, Noah seeks other friends beyond Colin’s circle.

As they grow into young men their paths become more solitary. Childhood seems to be fading away. But some­thing changes in Grade 10, and When We Were Boys returns one year later to a sur­pris­ingly poignant res­ol­u­tion between Noah and Colin.

2009 / Canada / Colour / English / 1.78 anamorphic presentation / Dolby Digital 2.0 / 77 minutes

Director: Sarah Goodman


  • Feature commentary with director Sarah Goodman, director of photography Mark Ellam and editor Caroline Christie
  • Follow-up interviews with members of the staff of Royal St. George's College
  • Audio interview with Sarah Goodman and the boys Noah and Colin
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Number: KNS 50133

UPC Number: 8-81751-50133-2