LEARNING TO BE A SINGLE DAD
Clive Owen at loose ends in The Boys Are Back.
I'm told that Simon Carr's The Boys Are Back is an honest and affecting memoir about a father's attempt to come to grip with life after his wife died of cancer. Whatever it is on the page, the movie version -- directed by Scott Hicks (Shine) -- is hamstrung by predictability and padding. Still, some positives can be found: It's interesting, for example, to see Owen shed his brooding skin to play Joe Warr, a sportswriter who lives in the Australian outback where he cares for two sons. Young Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) fills the movie's heart quotient. George MacKay portrays Harry, a teen-age son from Joe's previous marriage. Harry travels from England to spend time with his dad. In one of the movie's least persuasive conceits, Joe's late wife appears to him, offering advice on child rearing. I credit the movie for trying to grapple with the crazy-quilt aspects of life in which families from different marriages try to blend, but the movie turns out to be more conventional and less convincing than one might have hoped.
A FINE WRITER DISAPPOINTS