The Boys Are Back
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Clive Owen delivers a critically acclaimed performance in THE BOYS ARE BACK, the heartwarming and uplifting drama about a man who is suddenly thrust into the role of single parent. Successful sportswriter Joe Warr (Owen) finds himself completely unprepared to raise his rambunctious 6-year-old son Artie and juggle the challenges of a demanding job, running a household and the possibility of romance. Determined to bring joy back into their lives, he develops a revolutionary approach to parenting no rules, no chores. It's a home filled with love and chaos and then Joe's estranged teenage son comes for a visit. Inspired by a true story and filled with emotional honesty, this poignant film will touch your heart and lift your spirits.
Bonus Features include: THE BOYS ARE BACK: A Photographic Journey With Optional Commentary By Director Scott Hicks, A Father And Two Sons, On Set
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Their son Artie is a totally free-spirited little boy. He remains aloof to the situation with his mother as she passes away quickly and Warr is left to care for his son, job, home, and to manage everything that he never did before. His mother-in-law, "Nana", is in their home on and off trying to guide Joe in the ways of raising his precocious little boy, who states while in his class at school that "cat food looks better than it tastes". Warr sees things differently while learning to understand all that is involved in the grieving process of his son; anger, outbursts, laughter, indifference, and the closeness that Artie needs.
We quickly understand that Joe was married before and has another son, Harry (George MacKay). He has been at a highbrow prep school and comes to visit his father, who he barely knows and meet his little brother for the first time. The two boys are vastly different coming from two different worlds. Harry first appears disenfranchised with being a part of this new-found threesome until his father is able to smooth over the familial culture shock. He slowly begins enjoying the freedom of finally belonging to his father and Artie in a place that does not carry such staunch rules of decorum. It is lovely to see Harry be the child he really is and slowly grow to love his father and his younger brother. He wants to move there and live with them and Warr agrees. He fiercely loves his two boys in the course of the relationships slowly developing between the three of them.
Everything with this movie is not all sunshine, actually quite the opposite. Warr is forced, by the household situation, to quickly learn how to adapt to being an all around father. He educates himself about caring for Harry while smoothing over years of absence from his life and for Artie as he best sees fit then begins to enjoy his two sons in a whole new light. The movie studies the relationship of parent and child from the father's point of view. It also teaches just how wonderful and difficult a role this is for Joe Warr and single fathers in general while lifting this film to great heights and to a happily refreshing experience.
Joe Warr (Clive Owen) suddenly finds himself a single father when his young wife Katy (Laura Fraser) precipitously dies of intestinal cancer. Joe, the lead and oft-on-the-road sportswriter for Melbourne's major newspaper, must now connect with his six-year old son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). Coming to visit from England is his 14-year old son from a previous marriage, Harry (George MacKay), whom Joe pretty much abandoned to his first wife years before on their divorce.
THE BOYS ARE BACK is about male bonding - father with motherless son, father with fatherless son, brother with half-brother. In this clubhouse, the women, whether it be Joe's mother-in-law Barbara (Julia Blake) or potential new significant-other Laura (Emma Booth), are almost intruders.
Filmed mostly on Australia's striking south coast and with a soundtrack featuring haunting songs by Iceland's Sigur Rós, this film contains what is perhaps Clive Owen's finest and most nuanced performance to date. I wouldn't be surprised if Owen is nominated for an Oscar for this role, which is the best by a male actor I've seen in 2009.
Too often, I think, the societal presumption is that children of marriages broken by death or divorce are better off with mothers, that fathers are somehow less loving and less skilled at parenting. At least in this must-see film, that is emphatically not the case.
I left the screening keen on THE BOYS ARE BACK more than I can adequately express.
P.S. 1/21/2010 Now that 2009 is finished, I must say that Owen's performance, while not THE best of 2009, is one of three best, joining Morgan Freeman of INVICTUS and Jeff Bridges of CRAZY HEART. Good company, that.
The film's intent is admirable and the cast of characters selected to portray these people - Owens shows real potential as a serious dramatic actor, George McKay is particularly excellent as the elder son - is very well selected. The film is long, and could be easily edited without altering the impact of the story. Director Scott Hicks allows the film to become predictable and overly saccharine: less could definitely have been more. But it is a good evening's entertainment. And Clive Owens CAN do Hallmark-type films for TV! Grady Harp, January 10
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