‘My son will never replace your daughter,’
The Boys are Back is an Australian/British film about a sports journalist named Joe Warr (Clive Owen) who has to raise his two sons, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) and Harry (George Mackay) alone following the death of his second wife Katy (Laura Fraser).
From the very start of the film, it tends to suck you into an emotional rollercoaster that grabs at you and never lets you go until the credits roll. I went into watching the film thinking that it was going to be a really dull road movie involving children, but I was quickly mistaken. At times, I thought that it would land into some huge cliches, for instance, Clive Owen’s character running off with the mother of Artie’s female friend, but that never happened. From there, however, there could be some contrast between raising a daughter as a single mother and raising two children as a single father.
I found it quite sweet how Artie’s mother seemed to be a huge part of Joe’s life, to the point where, at some points in the film, she would be heard before she could be seen. If I ever watched the film again, I would look out for the positioning of Katy in the shots to make it appear that she was dead and he was alive, therefore he’s talking to her in his grief stricken subconsciousness. What’s so good about this film is that at times, it’s from the perspective of the father, but sometimes you see an insight into what it is like for the children. The film made me laugh, cry and smile and have a whole range of unpredictable emotions. One minute, I’m disliking Joe because he abandoned his eldest son Harry, the next, I’m getting used to him because after all, he only wants to bring his children up well. Perhaps the generation gap between the mother and the grandmother as a result of the loss of Katy- Joe’s wife, shows that Artie’s grandmother had to somehow take her daughter’s place, and she doesn’t live in the same household as them so Joe and his family have a household without women. It takes you on a journey to explore the somewhat troubled father-son relationship in close detail, and it leaves you thinking about it afterwards. There is also a metaphorical battle between childhood from Artie and teenage angst from Harry, who is indeed quite insecure, and hates his father. This is a heavy difference from Artie.
Like every other broad character, Joe does make mistakes. That’s where Clive Owen’s diverse acting range comes in. Having seen Clive Owen interviews about this film before watching the movie, I’m aware of how much the film basically feeds into his life. You could tell that he enjoyed being part of the film. His range of emotions throughout the film were superb. He could go from a ‘hey, let’s go on a road trip!’ to ‘Oh, for goodness sake. How about I teach you some manners afterwards?’ within moments. You could see his point when he lost his temper, though at times it came out of nowhere, and the fact that he pushed away his eldest son until it was too late was a bit uncool for. As for the actors who played the boys, they were both very promising, and I hope they do wonders in the world of acting.
I did not expect to watch the film with so many thoughts and emotions. As a fan of Clive Owen, I’ve seen both good and bad movies of his, and I think this one becomes second best beneath Children of Men. All the other actors were good in their own way, and the cinematography was excellent. If they would have carried on with that plot line between Joe and his youngest son’s friend’s mum then I would have turned it off entirely. The end had me in tears, though I don’t know if I would feel sad in the same way if I watched it again, though I will certainly give it another few rewatches.
If you haven’t watched it, go and watch it and say what you think of it.