The Boys Are Back

The Boys Are Back

(2009)

When Joe’s (Clive Owen) wife tragically passes away, he finds himself both grieving and in the throes of single parenthood. Joe throws himself into the only child-rearing philosophy he thinks has a shot at bringing joy back into their lives: "just says yes". Raising his two boys - a curious six year-old and a rebellious teen - in a household devoid of rules, life becomes exuberant, instinctual, reckless, and on the constant verge of disaster.... More

Shot in South Australia, The Boys are Back is from the director of Shine and based on the 2001 memoir by Simon Carr.Hide

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Flicks Review

The life of a solo parent is played as a delayed coming of age story in this sensitive male tearjerker. It’s a strong concept and Clive Owen delivers a polished lead performance, but the execution of some of the details let it down a little.

Director Scott Hicks (Shine) has based his career and reputation on his ability to coax strong acting turns from his cast, a trait again on show, with even the child actors impressing. The South Australian setting is also a big plus and a reminder that New Zealand isn’t the only South Pacific locale with landscapes perfect for movie backdrops.

On the other hand, the more cinematic elements of Hicks’ direction are hindrances to the story. Owen’s voiceover doesn’t add the emotional weight that is intended. In a similar vein, the onscreen ghost character brings the story to a grinding halt whenever she appears. These expressive devices may have been designed to add some flair and style to a basic narrative, but they seem out of step with the remainder of the film’s more straightforward sincerity. How much this interferes with your enjoyment of the film will come down to your penchant for, or tolerance of, sentimentality, a quality that the piece has in droves.


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71% of critics recommend.
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  • Clive Owen can be a likable actor, but the character is working against him...And please, please, give us a break from the scenes where the ghost of the departed turns up and starts talking as if she's not dead. Full Review

  • The Boys Are Back is a bit like the parenting it portrays -- at times there is pain, mistakes will be made, but if you can get beyond that, there is pleasure to be found. Full Review

  • When male film stars play yummy widowers with winsome children they normally find themselves a ditzy nanny and end up walking into the sunset as part of a wholesome regrouped nuclear family. Full Review

  • A few weeks back ago, Graeme Mason, the new head of our film commission, put a bit of a breeze up the undies of the people who care about such things, when he said that "drama" was now really no more than an "arthouse" genre. Full Review