Based on journalist Simon Carr’s 2000 true-life memoir, this Oscar-bait drama from perpetually serious-minded director Scott Hicks finds Clive Owen back in brooding mode as the recently widowed dad of 6-year-old Artie (Nicholas McAnulty) and 15-year-old Harry (George MacKay), his estranged son from a previous marriage.
Hicks, the guy behind Shine, Snow Falling on Cedars and Hearts in Atlantis, lathers on the “prestige movie” tropes, including a series of sequences in which his adrift protagonist stares into the distance while swigging alcohol in the beautiful Australian countryside and an annoying, often pretentious voice-over narration in which Owen states the obvious amid the pretty, melancholic music of Sigur Ros.
Yet the no-nonsense Owen somehow holds this thing together, his haggard face effectively expressing the pain and heartache of a guy scrambling to do right by his sons. Grade: B-
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