For his role as a widower in “The Boys Are Back,” Clive Owen was short-listed last year as a possible Oscar contender. As we saw last week, that didn’t happen, but it remains a good performance, so for a well-executed, underseen drama, rent it on DVD.
Owen is Joe, an Australian sportswriter whose wife suddenly dies of cancer, leaving him to raise their 6-year-old son, Artie, alone. Being a journalist who travels a great deal, Joe barely knows how to parent, so he establishes as few rules as possible. Water-balloon fights inside the house? No problem! The arrival of Joe’s teenage son from his first marriage “ whom he abandoned when that union soured “ promises to brighten things, but only temporarily.
Directed by Scott Hicks (“Shine“), the visuals are precious befitting a laundry detergent commercial, occasionally pushing the viewer toward manipulation. But the script remains fairly grounded, being based on a true story, so it never quite gets there. Oh, it still tugs at the heartstrings; the two women I watched it with cried throughout. Owen makes for a hugely sympathetic lead; I’m unsure whether it would’ve worked with someone else in the role. “Rod Lott