The Boys are Back is director Scott Hick’s (Shine) latest film about family, fatherhood and boys. The movie is based on ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ the 2001 memoir of The Independent columnist Simon Carr, and it was shot on location in South Australia, turned into an almost unrecognisable romantic landscape of swaying golden grass and winding seaside roads.
Clive Owen plays Joe Warr, a sportswriter who finds himself a single father of a six-year old boy and a teenager from a previous marriage. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water story as this ramshackle family raise themselves without any rules or feminine influence and with the reckless philosophy of ‘just say yes’.
The film held all the promise of an engaging story about the conflict, sadness and joys of family life, but it just didn’t grab me. I was trying to work out why and my conclusion was that I felt that the storyline and the characters lacked truth. I didn’t believe that Joe would feel quasi-sexual tension with pretty single mum Laura and sexy barmaid Mia, mere months after his wife’s death. I didn’t believe that any semi-responsible parent would ask an almost complete stranger to take care of his kids. I didn’t believe that the teenage Harry would choose to move thousands of kilometres away from his friends and upbringing in England in order to live in the South Australian bush. And the scenes where Joe’s dead wife comes back in visions to talk to Joe? Puh-lease.
For a film which is basically about a study in humanity, I think The Boys are Back failed. No doubt the critics will disagree with me – the film received an 8-minute standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival. My movie date buddy Lena also loved it, tearing up for most of the film. So which way do you fall – HOT or NOT?