The Boys

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

This merciless portrait of one very troubled brother who's released from prison only to destroy the world around him could have been a killer. It has all the makings of a taught, psychological thriller, including a powerhouse cast. But the thick-as-Vegemite, working-class accents make no concessions to non-Australian audiences, and a serious miscalculation...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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This merciless portrait of one very troubled brother who's released from prison only to destroy the world around him could have been a killer. It has all the makings of a taught, psychological thriller, including a powerhouse cast. But the thick-as-Vegemite,

working-class accents make no concessions to non-Australian audiences, and a serious miscalculation in narrative structure ensures that the action is equally incomprehensible. One year after nearly killing the owner of the local convenience store, Brett Sprague (David Wenham) — a tightly

twisted bundle of violence and physic abuse — returns home to the dreary little house he shares with his mother (Lynette Curran) and younger brother (Anthony Hayes) on the outskirts of Sydney. In almost no time, there's trouble: Brett's cache of drugs has gone missing, he accuses his randy

girlfriend Michelle (Toni Collette) of cheating on him and he seriously insults his other brother's (John Polson) upwardly mobile wife (Jeanette Cronin). An ill-advised beer-run back to the scene of the crime makes matters worse, heightening the tension that finally breaks in a shocking — and

completely unexpected — act of violence. At least, that's one guess: The dialogue, dense with Aussie slang and Down Under epithets, is screamed more than spoken and is largely unintelligible. Worse, first-time feature director Rowan Woods and screenwriter Stephen Sewell chose to disrupt the

action with a confusing series of flash-forwards; intended to offer fleeting glimpses of Brett's bleak future, they merely wreak havoc with the total dramatic time-frame. It may come as a surprise to learn that the action transpires over the course of a single day, not the weeks and months

indicated by misleading intertitles. The pity of all this is that beneath the noise and confusion, there's probably a powerful little film about familial violence screaming to be heard. It's just not screaming loudly enough.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This merciless portrait of one very troubled brother who's released from prison only to destroy the world around him could have been a killer. It has all the makings of a taught, psychological thriller, including a powerhouse cast. But the thick-as-Vegemit… (more)

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