The Boys

The Boys


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Nastiness is not enough. There has to be some saving grace, a memory of decency, a hint that once a mother's love mattered. The Boys is too ugly to watch. In the-Truth-Hurts School of misogynistic brutalism, a film such as this has gutter cred. To decry the way things are, because it offends, is not a critical statement, simply a point of view.

The location is a working-class suburb of Sydney. Brett (David Wenham) is released from prison after serving 12 months for GBH. He takes his mother ( Lynette Curran) as he finds her - garrulous, overstretched, concerned - and hardly bothers to acknowledge the need for affection. He insults his girlfriend (Toni Collette) and won't sleep with her. He hangs around with his brothers, Glenn and Stevie, while they slug beer and chain smoke.

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Someone's stolen his stash of drugs, which concentrates his mind long enough to stop him thinking of crippling the bloke who put him inside. Glenn is under attack from his sheila, who feels neglected and ignored. Eventually, she storms off in a rage. Stevie's girl looks 14 and is pregnant. She creeps about at the back of rooms, too afraid to speak. Stevie curses her.

A mood of barely suppressed violence hangs in the air, like a threat of rabid wildlife. The brothers booze the hours away and shout at women, nursing an anger that has no release. Sooner or later, it will erupt and all the hate, frustration and pain will cause unimaginable damage. Inside this humourless picture is a play that cuts up rough. It gains nothing from opening out. The intensity of such claustrophobic fury would be devastating on stage.

Rowan Woods uses a handheld camera close on faces and parts of furniture. His flashbacks, or flashforwards, or flashsomewheres are utterly confusing and help to dissipate the atmosphere of impending catastrophe. With an eagerness to demonstrate how cinema is more inventive than theatre, he can't stop showing off and, as a result, makes a hog's banquet of it. This is not to say that the performances fall short. They don't. In fact, they are too accurate. When it's over, you just want to forget.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A man gets paroled and heads home to his brothers and a house where violence rules the roost.
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Director: Rowan Woods

Writer: Stephen Sewell

Starring: David Wenham, Toni Collette, Lynette Curran, John Polson, Anthony Hayes, Jeanette Cronin, Anna Lise Phillips, Pete Smith, Sal Sharah, Lawrence Woodward, Peter Hehir

Year: 1998

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia/UK


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