Ma's View:

We saw this movie in the first week after New Year and, like Genova, it is a story of a dad coping with the death of his wife, this time with 2 sons and, you guessed it, the ghost of the wife keeps appearing to him.  I did not like this aspect of the film any more than in Genova!  Moving on... the film is directed by Scott Hicks and is based on the memoirs of Simon Carr who stepped into the role of sole parent when his second wife died.  For Joe (Clive Owen), as a busy sports journalist this is a shock, having been only a part-time parent up to that point in time.  To get to know his 6yo son, Artie, and help both of them cope with their grief, he sets off on a rather aimless and boring road trip - it is no wonder the boy throws the father of a tantrum.  Alarmingly, the only way Joe seems to be able to connect with the child is to allow him to do increasingly dare devil and dangerous things - a policy of saying "yes" whenever possible.  Into this situation comes his teenage son, Harry, from England and his first marriage and you have the basis for the title.  It is a tale of loss, of tenderness and of the fragility and complexity of human relationships; it reveals the different ways each "boy" deals with his emotional life and how each is unable to communicate their feelings fully; it shows how males bond through playing crazy, often hazardous games.

In the lead role, Clive Owen does a good job and he is certainly easy on the eyes, but his facial expression can be a bit wooden at times.  Again, acting honours go to the young boys, especially to Nicholas McAnulty as Artie while George Mackay as his teenage step-brother is totally convincing.  Grandma Barbara is played to perfection by Julia Blake.

An interesting and involving film if a tad long.  Or did it just drag a bit.  I think I expected more.

Score:  6/10

Pepe's View:

Perhaps because I am male and often (always) in trouble for letting my grandchildren doing "outlandish" things, I quite enjoyed the Dad's motto in this film - "Just say Yes".  Clive Owen as Joe has a theory that it is harder to say yes to everything a child wants to do than say no or more correctly give the normal adult response - no because...

As a result I quite enjoyed this film.  I did not enjoy the "ghost" appearing - it seemed just a little trite and convenient as a direction tool - but I did enjoy Clive Owen's performance - I agree, Ma, that he sometimes can be wooden but in this case the woodenness was kept to a minimum.  Julia Blake was once again great as the Grandma but the final reconciliation with her son in law and his lifestyle was a little too sudden and so became unbelievable.

The boys were wonderful - how do casting directors keep finding such wonderful child actors - and in fact held the film together and prevented it wallowing in self pity and silliness.  I particularly enjoyed the performance of George Mackay - the older son from Joe's first marriage - which caught the ambivalence of  a teenager meeting a younger half brother for the first time and being thrown into the chaos that was the lifestyle of Joe and Artie.  And all the time wanting desperately to actually connect with his Dad whom he had not had much to do with ever in his life.

All in all a satisfying film but it is no world beater - there have been much better Australian films produced  in 2009 and even though the scenery of South Australia was at times stunning, I felt much more could have been made of the setting in the Australian bush.

Score:  7/10

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