From the director of Shine comes The Boys Are Back, which is easily one of the more underrated movies of 2009. Now out on DVD and Blu-Ray, the drama doesn't break any new ground but still offers up some fine performances and compelling moments.
Though Clive Owen, the star of the movie, has yet to truly resonate with audiences, the actor who was once rumored to be a candidate to become James Bond has quietly built a strong resume in smaller films and roles. Few of his movies can be called box office hits, and his other two 2009 movies - Duplicity and The International - were underwhelming, but he has a knack for finding roles that suite his style and charm.
In The Boys Are Back, Owen plays Joe Warr, a father whose wife dies rather suddenly, leaving him alone with a young son in Australia. Unsure how to raise or relate to his six-year old son, he takes the path of least resistance, essentially letting his house fall to pieces so as to not come into conflict with the kid. But when his older son from another marriage comes to stay with them, the family is put to the test.
The movie is directed by Scott Hicks, but it belongs to Owen. There's nothing particularly new about his performance in the movie, but he plays it so damned well: the slick, charming man who can switch his fragility on and off in a heartbeat. Hell, if I were a woman, I'd throw myself at him. In The Boys Are Back, Owen plays a damaged soul, but one who can't show how torn up he is to his youngest son and is unwilling to do so to the older one. The character is not an easy one to play, but Owen does it superbly well. The performance is understated and subtle and not one that will garner a lot of attention, but it's impressive nonetheless.
The Boys Are Back features an excellent performance by Owen and an entertaining, engaging story. The movie isn't remarkable in any one way, and yet it works nonetheless. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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