FILM RATING: 3.5 stars
The Boys Are Back (2009) is one of those small indie films that people often don’t discover in the theaters, but find on DVD or TV. I recently watched it on Showtime and found it to be a great gem of a movie (3.5 stars out of 5). Director Scott Hicks has brought us two other small but beautifully made films: Shine (1996) and Snow Falling On Cedars (1999). I re-watched Snow Falling On Cedars this summer for a second time and I intend to blog about it separately. Clive Owen plays the lead character in The Boys Are Back, a husband and father who is both broken and free. His wife dies early in the movie, leaving him to reconcile his role as a father and a man. He left his first wife and son to live with his second wife. And they had a son of their own. As Owen’s character Joe mourns his wife, he soon realizes he needs to reconnect with his first son who lives in England. Joe and his younger son live in Australia. The movie takes us on Joe’s journey of reconnecting with his first son and learning how to parent his younger son. And Joe begins to understand what is most important for himself in living his own life.
This film is a little flat and melodramatic at times, but it makes up for it with some great scenes and good story. I wasn’t sure at first if Owen was the right fit for this character, but by the end of the movie, I was sold on him in the role. The young actor who plays the first son, George MacKay, is wonderfully brilliant as a tortured teen who doesn’t understand his father or why he was left behind. The photography in the film is brilliant as it showcases the Australian landscape and some Aussie architecture as well. I especially love the newspaper building where Joe works, with its headlines in large print all over its glass facade.
This is a small character-driven family drama, without any flash or sizzle, but just solid movie storytelling.