Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Boys Are Back: Movie Review

The Boys Are Back: Movie Review

Rating: 8/10
Cast: Clive Owen, Laura Fraser, Nicholas McAnulty, George McKay, Erik Thomson
Director: Scott Hicks
Clive Owen stars as Joe, a wise cracking sports journalist and absentee father (due to work) in south Australia.
He's got a pretty sweet life; a wife Katy (Laura Fraser) whom he adores and a six year old Artie (a brilliant, crowd winning performance from McAnulty) whose hedonistic enthusiasm for life keeps him on the move.
But when his wife suddenly dies, Joe finds himself having to run the house and is forced to reconnect with his son. That's not the half of it though - as his teenage son Harry (McKay) from his previous marriage is heading over from the UK to stay.
Suddenly Joe is facing responsibilities and emotions he'd long thought buried and forgotten&
Based on the memoir by Simon Carr, The Boys Are Back is a sensitive look at a father's relationship with his sons, brilliantly handled by director Scott Hicks (who did Shine) and masterfully performed by McAnulty and Owen.
In fact, it's probably fair to say that it's Clive Owen's charisma which keeps the film from miring itself in schmaltz - the story's rooted firmly in reality and his easy going charm on the screen shows why he's probably one of our more underrated actors.
Joe's lack of rules in the house clearly is destined to lead to problems and it inevitably does lead to things falling apart - but all the way through their troubles, there's an unspoken and permanently obvious love between the father and his sons which makes the film plausible and their relationship believable.
There's a nice chemistry between Owen and his costar Emma Booth who stars as single mum Laura - their arc doesn't follow the normal route and you'll be glad it didn't fall into cliché. And there's a dose of reality when Joe's wife suddenly falls ill which may make you re-appraise the relationships in your life.
The good thing about The Boys Are Back is that it avoids the trapping of usual films like this - not once does director Scott Hicks milk any emotional moment on screen - he uses a subtlety that makes the drama feel more intimate and real.

With its low key warmth and heart, as well as heartbreak, I think it's fair to say that you'll be hard pushed to find a more poignant film about the complicated relationship between a father and his son. Clive Owen shines and is a joy to watch - every one of us can recognize some element of family life (single parent or otherwise) in his portrayal of a man coming to terms with his place in the world.

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