This winning male weepie portrays Australian sports journalist Joe Warr (Clive Owen) improvising solo fatherhood for the sake of his 6-year-old son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) and Artie’s half-brother Harry (George MacKay), a teenager living in England with Carr’s first wife. Carr’s second wife Katy (Laura Fraser), a former competitive equestrian, dies of cancer early in the first reel but reappears for sporadic visits with her spouse. “The Boys Are Back” is based on Simon Carr’s 2001 memoir about raising two sons, aged five and eleven, after his wife’s death in 1994. Warr deals with in-laws, his ex, parents of Artie’s peers, and colleagues. He falters in grief and recoils against proper parenting tips with his anarchic “just say yes” fallback. Housekeeping is chaotic; morale improves. Mostly shot on the scenic Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, this affecting drama comes with seven sirenic numbers by the Icelandic group Sigur Rós. Never glossing over the awful loss of a wife and mother, director Scott Hicks (“Shine”) and writer Allan Cubitt blend warm humor and emotional hurt as Warr works through drafts of a new family. 100m. (Bill Stamets)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.