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BOYS, THE

SYNOPSIS:
On his return home after a year in jail, Brett Sprague (David Wenham), one of three brothers, discovers things have changed and his insecurities build. Brett’s girlfriend, Michelle (Toni Collette) resents the way Brett has changed. His brothers, Glenn (John Polson) and Stevie (Anthony Hayes) are restless and boozing; Stevie’s pregnant girlfriend (Anna Lise) is a nusiance, hanging around. Chaos reigns in the Sprague home as their mother, Sandra (Lynette Curran), makes a stand against her sons' behaviour. George (Pete Smith), Sandra’s current lover, steps between Sandra and Brett at the height of a drunken rage and is flattened by Brett. Sandra orders her sons out of the house. Rejected by their respective girlfriends and their mother, the Sprague boys are united in a futile rage against the lot of them. Brett leads his brothers off into the night. Wound through the story is the aftermath of that night in the form of flash-forwards.

"Other than with a handful of films like Romper Stomper, Metal Skin or Blackrock, Australian filmmakers have not been drawn to the dark side of life in Australia’s communities, the areas from which come the crimes that hit the papers. The Boys - originally a play but you wouldn’t know it looking at the film – was prompted by a series of crimes in which young women were plucked from the street and brutalised; the most memorable, perhaps, being Anita Cobby. To its credit, The Boys is more interested in the exploration of the mindset of its three central characters, than in showing us a bashing and a rape. Sewell’s script, structured (like the play) with sparsely used flash forwards that jump further and further ahead in time, carries us through the flimsy walls of the Sprague house into the lives of this ill-fated family, with its broken marriage, disgruntled and aimless sons, the pathetic pregnant girlfriend and its ticking time bomb of a young man whose personality and circumstances have combined to turn him into an anti-social, anti-pathetic, anti-sensitive packet of dysfunction. David Wenham gives a sensational performance as Brett the brat, matched by the entire cast for intensity, complexity and credibility. Rowan Woods demonstrates the passion and drive of a first time director with his striking sense of story telling and cinema, while Tristan Milani’s camera becomes a surgeon’s scalpel as we are taken further and further into the film’s substance. Producers Robert Connolly (who also produced the play) and John Maynard have brought together the right elements here to make The Boys one of the most powerful, observant and artistically satisfying Australian films ever made.
Andrew L. Urban

"Gritty and powerful, The Boys is a hard-hitting drama that simmers expectantly with underlying violence. In his feature film debut Rowan Woods captures intense tension and mood with stark close ups and a harsh look at three boys who are out of control. Highly effective is the cinematic style of flash forwards, allowing the story and its consequences to unfold in a visually powerful and memorable way. While it’s not a pretty story, the film’s pulse engages with passion and superb performances. David Wenham is outstanding as Brett, whose anger and frustrations are bottling up like a gas main ready to blow. Obsessed with revenge, he believes that we are all gods of our own world. Brett is like an animal stalking its prey - his mostly calm exterior shows brooding undertones of danger and violence. Equally strong are his screen siblings: John Polson has great screen presence as Glenn - he desperately wants to improve himself, but is weak, relying on his brother for leadership and motivation. Lynette Curran is extraordinary as Sandra, the mother who desperately tries to keep her boys on the straight and narrow. The conflict Curran portrays of her maternal love coupled with her struggle for a life of her own and being a compassionate human being, is all too evident. She is sadly a pathetic character, with Curran’s brave performance a highlight. The Boys is cinema vérité, an exciting, striking and powerful new Australian film destined to leave its mark."
Louise Keller

"It’s been a long time since an Australian film has emerged with as much power and energy as this remarkable work by director Rowan Woods. Taking the stage play, Woods has opened it up to create a true cinematic piece, one where cameras move about frenetically to create the image of a character on the edge. The Boys is a masterful study of family loyalty taken to the extremes, and the connection, and sometimes lack thereof, that exists between mother and son. Though the film focuses on a horrific crime, Woods never takes us there directly, nor falls into the trap of showing us any major violence. Yet, the film is a chilling portrait of a man on the verge of his own self-destruction, and the film’s power lies in its ability to take us inside a complex and unnerving human creation. David Wenham created Brett on the stage, and on film, he’s truly extraordinary. Not since Russell Crowe’s performance in Romper Stomper, has an Australian actor emerged on the scene with as much intellect, precision, emotional force and sheer complexity as Wenham. He’s made this character his own, and the result is the most intricate and mind-blowing screen performance in years. Others in the cast are just as formidable, especially Lynette Curran (also in the play), who gives strength and vulnerability to the complex mother. Toni Collette is also strong as Brett’s girlfriend, though it’s a performance we’ve often seen before. Skilfully directed, superbly and evocatively shot, brilliantly edited, The Boys is a tough film, but a rewarding one. Compelling and disturbing, with this movie, Australian cinema has produced one of its most exciting and original offspring seen in the last years. This is certainly a film not to be missed."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 4
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

Read Paul Fischer's interview with
DAVID WENHAM

THE BOYS (MA)
(AUS)

 

CAST: David Wenham, Toni Collette, Lynette Curran, John Polson, Jeanette Cronin, Anthony Hayes, Anna Lise, Pete Smith

DIRECTOR: Rowan Woods

PRODUCER: Robert Connolly and John Maynard

SCRIPT: Stephen Sewell (based on original play The Boys by Gordon Graham)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tristan Milani

EDITOR: Nick Meyers

MUSIC: The Necks

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Luigi Pittorino

RUNNING TIME: about 90 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Globe

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 7, 1998







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