The Boys Are Back

2009

Drama /

2
IMDb Rating 6.8

Synopsis


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104 min
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English
24.000 FPS /
104 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DICK STEEL 8/10

Mention Clive Owen, and chances are you&#x27;ll think of that suave personaplaying no less than roguish characters ranging from secret agents towell, erm, the go-to man if you want things done. Like Jackie Chan inThe Spy Next Door, he&#x27;s about to discover that the biggest challenge ofhis cinematic career is parenting, and in The Boys Are Back, Owen shedshis larger than life, indestructible spy characters for the role ofDad, and a complicated one too in having to reconnect with two boysfrom different marriages.<br><br>Based on the memoirs by Simon Carr, Owen stars as Joe Warr, a Britishsports news reporter now living in Southern Australia with his wifeKaty (Laura Fraser) and son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). But anunforeseen tragedy forces him to rethink his priorities in life, andfigure out just how to cope with bringing up a kid, having noexperience when he abandoned his ex-wife and his son Harry (GeorgeMacKay) from a previous marriage. So he hatches what he thought was abrilliant plan, and that&#x27;s to bring Harry to Australia, and together,as a trio, would seek out new adventures in their parent-childrelationship, imposing no rules other than to listen to him whencommanded should the boys get out of hand.<br><br>The opening sequence would give rise to a certain expectation of howthis film would play out, and little would you guess just what thebeach going public was cursing at Joe for. It&#x27;s this no holds barredgrowing up adventure that elevates this beyond just another movie withmourning and longing, where the protagonists realize that theirunorthodox ways of bonding together, forging strong family ties, isjust as easy and fragile as it is to be torn down.<br><br>Scott Hicks doesn&#x27;t sugar coat the film with saccharine sweet moments,but instead offers some real pragmatism in what one would expect in ahousehold lacking a woman&#x27;s touch. And as a male I too abhor householdchores unless it&#x27;s absolutely necessary, so watching how the artdirection of the Warr household just brought out that smirk that thefilthy pig sty, erm, isn&#x27;t far off from personal experience.<br><br>But it&#x27;s not always just about the boys, as the narrative did offer asneak peek into another what if moment, where budding romance withLaura (Emma Booth) was suggested at, though smartly worked on in notallowing it to overshadow the examination of the main relationships inthe film about a father&#x27;s attempt to connect with his sons, and themwith each other. You&#x27;d wish for more given Booth&#x27;s fine performance asthe divorc&#xE9;e giving out all the right signals, only being frustratedthat they&#x27;re not acted upon with some degree of sincerity, with thatunfair feeling of always being used.<br><br>For those familiar with what Clive Owen does best in his cinematic,larger than life personae portrayed on film, this role of Joe Warrwould lead you to believe the the actor certainly has dramatic chopsfor more serious, father roles even. With excellent tracks by SigurRos, The Boys Are Back is one film that manages to get under your skinand make you feel very much for the dysfunctional family trying to findits rudder in the confused world they live in.

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Reviewed by pyrocitor 8/10

Going by a superficial examination of director Scott Hicks&#x27; latesthuman drama, The Boys are Back, it might prove incredibly difficult toenvision how the story, detailing the death of a spouse, healingthrough father/son bonding and the struggle to balance personal andselfless agendas in life, could avoid caving to contrived Hollywoodsentiment and easy storytelling clich&#xE9;. However, bearing this concernin mind, Hicks&#x27; film can be seen as affirmation to the fact that realstories of loss and emotional rebirth can be told without simplysuccumbing to excessive saccharine convention while retaining theirauthenticity, as The Boys are Back fuses humour, heartbreak, power andpoignancy with the greatest of ease and with a complete lack ofpretension, feeling impressively real and all the more resonant becauseof it.<br><br>While the film could be described as a challenging watch due to itsupsetting subject matter, more challenging (in an entirely positivesense) is Hicks&#x27; refusal to provide the viewer with &#x27;easy answers&#x27; orsuperficial narrative or emotional closure. Rather than providing astreamlined narrative filled with requisite Hollywood exposition andfiller scenes, the film appears to simply jump from scene to scene,providing a clear sense of an overarching narrative, but with more of aclunky, episodic flow, devoting nearly as much emphasis to seeminglybanal scenes as Owen&#x27;s character struggling to do the laundry orleisurely sequences of the boys playing (framed by the sumptuousscenery of Southern Australia)as more pivotal plot points. However,such a narrative style amplifies the sense of realism of the story, asif Hicks&#x27; cameras simply happened across the events unfolding ratherthan them being carefully predetermined for maximum emotional effect,as one might see in a more carefully tailored Hollywood film.Similarly, despite the superficially fragmented sense of narrative,through representing seemingly inconsequential moments interspersedwith the major emotional scenes, Hicks&#x27; story paradoxically feels allthe more flushed out, hinting at a much grander story looming beyondits collection of trace moments, and feeling all the more realistic andimpactful because of it.<br><br>However, Hicks&#x27; film truly excels at providing moments of raw, oftentear-jerking emotion, without them ever seeming forced or false. Thesubtlety and abruptness of Owen&#x27;s wife falling ill is all the moredevastating through its lack of overt begging for sentiment, and manyof the scenes of Owen attempting to cheer up his sons are likely toleave few dry eyes in the house through their overwhelming charm andthe sheer naturalistic joy they evoke. As such, while the film is notwithout its occasional faults (rocky patches of dialogue crop upthroughout and the story begins to drag as it approaches the end), itssheer power, emotional poignancy and Hicks&#x27; refusal to beat theaudience over the head continually instils the film with life andimmediacy, making it a perpetually interesting watch.<br><br>However, as with many such intimate human dramas, it is the strength ofthe central performers which really drives the film home. Clive Owen issimply flooring as the struggling sports writer attempting to findequilibrium between his own concerns and grief and taking care of histwo sons after the unexpected death of his wife. Giving a performancebrimming with pathos but also necessary charm, Owen easily delivers hisbest work to date: a magnificent, unshowy and achingly true portrait ofa man in crisis which proves utterly unshakable after the film is done.However, as capable as Owen is, the performances by Nicholas McAnultyand George MacKay as his two sons (younger and older respectively), whoprove just as proficient at delivering staggeringly honest, powerful,charming and heartbreaking performances of two boys caught betweenacting their ages and dealing with emotional trauma potentially beyondtheir capacities. Laura Fraser is also a heartbreaking and memorablepresence as Owen&#x27;s tragically deceased wife, seen largely in imaginedconversations with him throughout the narrative.<br><br>Whether extracting tears of heartbreak or cheers of joy from theaudience, Hicks&#x27; The Boys are Back proves a remarkably effective yetimpressively low key drama filled with enough scrappy humour to providemuch needed balance. With astonishing performances sure to attractawards attention, the film will hopefully begin to garner morewidespread recognition and attention, which it unquestionably meritsand deserves.<br><br>-8/10

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Reviewed by Troy_Campbell 7/10

At its core The Boys are Back is nothing new; tales of heartache andsorrow, and the plethora of emotions experienced after a loved onepasses away, are a staple of the drama genre. It&#x27;s thanks to novelistSimon Carr and screenwriter Allan Cubitt that Boys manages to feelfresh - albeit with slightly annoying characters, more on that soon &#x96;their book and adaptation, respectively, is in the higher echelon of&#x27;mourning&#x27; dramas. The two plots &#x96; firstly Joe&#x27;s new foundresponsibility to Artie then to his other son Harry, both underdifferent circumstances &#x96; mould together seamlessly and never does itappear like they went for too much. Even the small subplots, which canso often be unnecessary, are natural and help boost the alreadyexceptional story.<br><br>There is an issue though: the major players can be aggravating onoccasion. Joe, a supposedly intelligent person, makes some parentaldecisions which &#x96; grieving a lost one or not &#x96; come off as just plainstupid and dangerous; mother-in-law Barbara needlessly spits out somemanipulative dialogue; young Artie, possibly due to no fault of hisown, at times behaves like a spoilt brat; and every now and then Harryis too whiny, even for a teenager. But hey, don&#x27;t all family membershave their faults? Unfortunately some of these are heightened after alife-changing event.<br><br>Greig Fraser&#x27;s astounding cinematography must be given a mention. Therural South Australian setting is nothing short of breathtaking asFraser&#x27;s light green and orange palette gives the location warmth andcalmness. The SA government would be well served using some of Boysmaterial, the festival state&#x27;s tourism would skyrocket. Complimentingthe visuals is Hal Lindes terrific acoustic score, his music capturesthe mood perfectly for the opposing upbeat and pensive moments.<br><br>Overall director Scott Hicks has delivered a worthy picture aboutmourning, adapting and moving on. Would have been excellent if itweren&#x27;t for the characters intermittently grating on your nerves.<br><br>3.5 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 -Classic)

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