The Boys Are Back is a confessional tale of fatherhood. It follows a witty, wisecracking, action-oriented sportswriter who, in the wake of his wife's death, finds himself in a sudden, stultifying state of single parenthood. Joe Warr throws himself into the only child-rearing philosophy he thinks has a shot at bringing joy back into their lives: "just says yes." Raising two boys - a curious six year-old and a rebel teen from a previous marriage -- in a household devoid of feminine influence, and with a lack of rules, life becomes exuberant, instinctual, reckless... and on the constant verge of disaster. The three multi-generational boys of the Warr household, father and sons alike, must each find their own way, however tenuous, to grow up. Written by
Overall director Scott Hicks has delivered a worthy picture about mourning, adapting and moving on.
At its core The Boys are Back is nothing new; tales of heartache and sorrow, and the plethora of emotions experienced after a loved one passes away, are a staple of the drama genre. It's thanks to novelist Simon Carr and screenwriter Allan Cubitt that Boys manages to feel fresh - albeit with slightly annoying characters, more on that soon their book and adaptation, respectively, is in the higher echelon of 'mourning' dramas. The two plots firstly Joe's new found responsibility to Artie then to his other son Harry, both under different circumstances mould together seamlessly and never does it appear like they went for too much. Even the small subplots, which can so often be unnecessary, are natural and help boost the already exceptional story.
There is an issue though: the major players can be aggravating on occasion. Joe, a supposedly intelligent person, makes some parental decisions which grieving a lost one or not come off as just plain stupid and dangerous; mother-in-law Barbara needlessly spits out some manipulative dialogue; young Artie, possibly due to no fault of his own, at times behaves like a spoilt brat; and every now and then Harry is too whiny, even for a teenager. But hey, don't all family members have their faults? Unfortunately some of these are heightened after a life-changing event.
Greig Fraser's astounding cinematography must be given a mention. The rural South Australian setting is nothing short of breathtaking as Fraser's light green and orange palette gives the location warmth and calmness. The SA government would be well served using some of Boys material, the festival state's tourism would skyrocket. Complimenting the visuals is Hal Lindes terrific acoustic score, his music captures the mood perfectly for the opposing upbeat and pensive moments.
Overall director Scott Hicks has delivered a worthy picture about mourning, adapting and moving on. Would have been excellent if it weren't for the characters intermittently grating on your nerves.
3.5 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)
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