Thursday, October 8, 2009
Clive Owen is a widower suddenly left to raise his 6 year old son, Arty (Nicholas McAnulty). Then adding to the mix his teenage son, Harry (George MacKay) whom he left in England when he fell in love with Arty's mother, now wants to live with him in Australia.
The film explores the simple fact that parenting is a "fly by the seat of your pants" endeavor for almost everyone, and even more so for someone used to relying on another to be the "adult".
The beginning of the film is an unnecessary downer as we endure the scenes of Arty's mother dying from cancer. Dying scenes can be a necessity in many movies, but for this story a quick death would have been just as, if not more effective.
I also dislike when a film starts out using the device of telling the story of the past, from the future, with narration; but then doesn't commit to it. The rest of the story is told in a very linear fashion, which could have been done from the beginning to the end.
Still, this small glimpse into this man's journey into single fatherhood, with a backdrop of beautifully barren Australia, is moving and engaging. The relationship that develops between Harry and Arty is just short of being too sentimental and settles on heartwarming. Arty in fact, is the glue of the piece. The actor looks like a prepubescent Mick Jagger as he delivers his lines to perfection. I suppose Simon Carr, who wrote the book The Boys Are Back in Town that the film is based on, made notes on the things his son uttered in the months after his wife's death - because Arty's dialog seems spot on and so unintentionally funny in the way children are apt to be.
[Director Scott Hicks (Shine)]
Rating: Pretty Middle Toe