The Boys are Back

There comes a movie from time to time that makes you feel like you have done something worthwhile, just by watching it. ‘The Boys are Back’ was one such movie.

I watched it over the weekend, without a clue what the movie was about. I took the DVD from my rental guy, who considers every movie “damn good”. I had never really taken his word on any movie, but for once I wanted to see whether his “damn good” is actually good enough. I must say, it was true for this one. But then of course, he gave me another movie with the same review, which was incredibly painful to watch. But, I wasn’t too bummed out.

Well, the movie delves into the lives of a family without a woman. The storyline is consistent in the aspect of exploring and dealing with loss- there is no great show of gallantry, nor a great show of sorrow. Sorrow just is, and people deal with grief in their own individual way. The movie is a confessional narrative of a  sports writer of a father, who deals with a young son (Arty), after losing his wife to cancer. He can barely deal with his own loss and yet, he has to look out for his son. Clive Owen portrays a distraught father, taking on parenting a young child without much prior experience, though he has a teenage son back in England.

The father (Joe Warr) invites his son (Harry), from his first marriage, to visit them in Australia. It is unnerving for a young teenager to come to a family where there aren’t rules to follow, chores to do and the motto being ‘Just Say Yes’. There is awkwardness and frustration on Joe’s part in dealing with the young boys, but he just deals with it the best way he can.

I personally felt the storyline also subtly challenges stereotypes of child rearing. A mother or a woman is not necessarily the best parent. In the face of tragedy, a man must do his part. The movie is a portrayal of a father who wants to do the right thing for both his sons. It slowly dawns to him (by virtue of experience) that his own ‘chauvinistic’ opinions of child rearing is not necessarily true.

For me, the movie was truthful as it brought forward a holistic portrayal of how every person deals with loss. A woman dies, a father moves away, et al, and these loss influence everyone around them. Parents and families are left to deal with their loss, and in face of utmost confusion, the memories of loved ones resurface to serve in times of need. During complete hopelessness, Joe Warr turns to the memory of his wife and seeks out help.

The movie is speckled with poignant scenes of complete vulnerability, inadequacy and bewilderment, which all rings true to real life. It is a journey of a father with his estranged son, a journey of a man who deals with what life throws at him, a journey of a young child who deals with life without a mother, and a journey as a family. Maybe not the perfect family, but a family nonetheless.

The movie serves as a reminder that we can choose to live better and wiser, with people we love and,deal with everything as it comes. It is low key, no doubt, but life is just that. I took from this movie a sense of rebellion and a desire to carve out a life that fits only you and your family. Maybe, this is good advice.


  1. 'The Boys Are Back' was a "damn good" film. I'd have to agree with your review. In many ways, it does challenge many assumptions made in society, whether if it's single father taking care of two kids, mother's aren't always the best parents (Harry tells Joe that his mother wasn't a good mother), or even the simple fact that it's alright for a single man to ask for help; these assumptions were definitely pinned and juxtaposed to a realistic context.

    Brilliant review!


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