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Boys Are Back, The


Stars: Clive Owen, Emma Booth, Laura Fraser, Nicholas McAnulty, Julia Blake, George MacKay, Natasha Little, Chris Haywood, Emma Lung

Director: Scott Hicks

Pleasant, if largely unexceptional Australia-set story of Joe Warr (Owen), whose wife (Fraser, long time no see) dies quite suddenly from bowel cancer, leaving him with their six-year-old son Artie (McAnulty) and a possessive grandmother-in-law (Blake). There's a tentative relationship wiuth a divorcee (Booth) who teaches at Artie's school, but the film doesn't want to settle for the conventional, and finds its focus in a visit from Joe's other son (MacKay) from his first marriage to Flick (Little, also long time no see) in England.

The boys bond, but Joe, whose house has become a tip, has problems both in looking after them, and keeping up with his job as a leading sports journalist.

The film ambles along with the occasional shot of funny dialogue. 'You've got your shoes on the wrong feet,' Joe tells his younger son. Complains the sprig: 'they're the only feet I've got.' Australia looks wonderful: the Aussie tourist board should be delighted. And Owen gives one of his most caring performances.

David Quinlan

Australia/UK 2009. UK Distributor: Walt Disney (Miramax). Colour by deluxe.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 17 Jan 2010