The Boys Are Back


Directed by: Scott Hicks
Written by:Simon Carr
Starring: Clive Owen, Laura Fraser, George MacKay, Nicholas McAnulty, Emma Booth, Emma Lung, Julia Blake
Released: November 12, 2009
Grade: B

Joe Warr (Owen) is a sports journalist for a leading Australian newspaper.  Sounds like a great job if you ask me.  He gets to travel around the country and mingle with the world’s great athletes.  There are some nice scenes in the film of Joe covering the action at the Australian Open tennis.  It’s certainly good publicity for the event.

Sadly, Joe is about to come face-to-face with tragedy.  His young wife (Fraser) dies of cancer and his world his turned upside down.  Stricken with grief, Joe must pick up the pieces and start moving forward.

It won’t be easy however.  He has a 6-year-old named Artie (McAnulty) who is also struggling to cope with the loss.  Joe has spent a lot of time travelling in recent years and hasn’t always been there for his son.  He knows this is a chance to make amends but he’s apprehensive about his fathering skills.  Can Joe balancing his work with his increased responsibilities at home?

A 14-year-old by the name of Harry (MacKay) may be the answer.  Harry is Joe’s son from a previous marriage and he has lived in London with his mother for a number of years.  Joe receives an unexpected call from his ex-wife who asks that Harry spend the summer with him in Australia.

I need to make clear this isn’t all doom and gloom.  The Boys Are Back is an uplifting tale which highlights the important bond that is shared between father and son.  It’s not easy being a parent and Joe must find a way of connecting with his children.  The kids don’t always make it easy but as Joe proves, adults can make mistakes too.

I have long admired Australia-born director Scott Hicks and his two greatest works have been Shine and Snow Falling On Cedars (both worthy of an A+).  The Boys Are Back was largely filmed in South Australia and I love the look which he gives the film.  I speak of everything from the breathtaking sunset at the beach to the filthy house in which they live.  Hicks has an eye for beauty.

Unfortunately, there is something missing here which I can’t put my finger on.  All I know is that I didn’t feel the emotional impact that I was anticipating.  I liked the fact that Clive Owen isn’t your ordinary father (he lets his kids get away with almost anything) but at the same time, I don’t know if I really liked the guy.  Is he the hero or the villain in this story?  I’m not sure.