The Boys Are Back

Rated 3.0

A widowed father (Clive Owen) tries to cope with raising two sons he barely knows, a 5-year-old (Nicholas McAnulty) from his recently deceased wife, and an adolescent (George MacKay) from a previous marriage whom he hasn’t seen in years. Allan Cubitt’s script claims to be based on Simon Carr’s memoir, but Cubitt changes it so much that it’s reasonable to wonder whether he’s fictionalized the story or falsified it. In any case, there’s a Lifetime-channel slickness to the story, with an unseemly dependence on Greig Fraser’s postcard-lovely cinematography of the Australian countryside, which threatens to turn the movie into a shill for Aussie tourism. Saving the day is director Scott Hicks and the performances he draws from Owen (never better) and the two boys (newcomers who may never be this good again).