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The Boys Are Back

The boys are back in town? No, no, no. Thatís a rock song about punks.

<> is a movie with Clive Owen. The description of it reads like a soap opera plot line (oxymoron intended). Man leaves wife and young son for another woman, and moves half way round the world. They have a son. Six years later, one of the women dies. Can the character, Joe Warr, be a single parent to both boys? Sounds schmaltzy at first hearing. But itís not fiction. Simon Carr wrote the memoir about his life upon which this movie is based. That sheds a bit of new light on it. The male perspective. Portrait of Eddyís Father hits the big screen. That would explain the welcome absence of violins.

Itís being reviewed here because itís a superb seminar on grief. How men and women handle loss differently. How some people avoid the issue, others act out, others run away. How chaos is the only thing that seems to make sense after a death of a loved one. How necessary it is to have a support system. How to grieve as a family. The importance of a good, honest friend. That unresolved grief never goes away until itís addressed.

But all this isnít clear until you think about it afterwards. Instead, youíre just watching a pleasant movie, with very real, pretty interesting characters. While there are a few moments things seem to drag, they donít last long before youíre back into the story. And you do get caught up in the story; you do want to see whatís going to happen next. And again, itís such a relief to be allowed to have oneís own honest emotions, rather than having them manipulated by music, camera angles, or lighting.

Not to suggest that itís an emotional movie. Itís not a chick flick by any means. But nothing explodes, no guns are fired, nor are there car chases. So itís not a guy flick, either. It really is a well done study of grief from the manís point of view. This character is a big departure from others Owen has played. In an interview, he said that as a father in real life, he welcomed this chance to explore parenting in film.

Though Clive Owen has a fair resume of films, and has top billing for this one, he is not the star. The cast truly works as an ensemble, and very well.

No, the star here is director Scott Hicks. He gives each adult cast member time to shine. But it is the portrayals of the sons by George MacKay and Nicholas McAnulty where Hicks excels. You think you are watching seasoned professionals, until you realize neither boy is old enough yet to be seasoned. It is a special, rare talent that elicits such performances, and is able to capture them.

The Australian scenery is beautiful. Aussie native Hicks shows his pride of place.

If you allow yourself to think about the movie later, you may find information that can help you get on track with some of your own grief issues. If nothing else, itís interesting to see you arenít the only one who went crazy after a loss. Or you may find a way to finally help a friend who has been suffering.

Or you may find no socially redeeming characteristics in the film at all, rather just enjoyed a lovely story, had a few laughs.

This film is not being widely distributed. You may have to go across town to find it. Either way, itís worth the trip.

Shalom.

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