DRAMA; 1hr 40min
STARRING: Clive Owen, Nicholas McAnulty, George MacKay, Laura Fraser
Brave new world: from left, MacKay, Owen and McAnulty
Women are traditionally nurturers. So when Katy (Fraser), the wife of Australia-based British sports journalist Joe Warr (Owen), dies of cancer, he is ill prepared to pick up the emotional and domestic slack. Being a blokey heavy drinker, Joe has a peripheral but affectionate relationship with his six-year-old son, Artie (McAnulty). Now father and son are flying solo and since Joe’s idea of housekeeping is not to do it, the living isn’t easy. And just when he and Artie are beginning to bond, along comes Joe’s 14-year-old son Harry (MacKay) from his previous marriage.
It’s a treat to catch Owen in down-home mode, especially given that The Boys Are Back is based on the 2000 memoir of British parliamentary sketch writer Simon Carr. Scott Hicks (Shine) directs with a patent sympathy that doesn’t sugarcoat the mundane and pressured reality of juggling career and kids. The thing is, though, that it is mundane, no matter how prettily shot, a fact that works simultaneously for it in the keeping-it-real stakes and against it because how day-to-day do we honestly want our cinema to be?