The Boys Are Back

Clive Owen

Directed by Scott Hicks
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
September 17, 2009

He can brood like nobody's business (Closer, Children of Men) and kill with impunity (The International, Shoot 'Em Up), but Clive Owen cuts bone-deep as sportswriter Joe Warr, the widowed dad of two sons in The Boys Are Back, based on a 2000 memoir by Simon Carr. OK, it sounds like a tear-jerker, and sometimes it drifts dangerously close. But Owen, in a heartfelt, award-caliber performance, never goes soft. It's his core of toughness that makes the movie so funny, touching and vital.

Get more news and reviews from Peter Travers on the Travers Take

Joe had split from his first wife and son in England to run off to Australia with the woman he loved. When cancer ends her life, Joe must raise their six-year-old son, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty), and forge a relationship with Harry (George MacKay), the resentful teen he left behind. For grief-stricken Joe, it's a messy business bringing his sons together. Props to Owen for refusing to stoop to sitcom fluff. Joe's "Just Say Yes" approach to single parenting could be described as semiferal, especially when he stupidly and near tragically leaves the boys home alone while he covers the Australian Open. McAnulty and MacKay work wonders as boys who really don't know their father or each other. But Aussie director Scott Hicks, doing his best work since 1996's Oscar-nominated Shine, lets the story play out in Owen's expressive, haunted eyes. This movie will take a piece out of you.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Long Walk Home”

    Bruce Springsteen | 2007

    When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

    More Song Stories entries »