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The Boys movie review

The Boys

I came out of The Boys feeling like I needed a shower and scrubbing to wash off the experience. For 90 minutes, the viewer is part of the psychological world of the three Sprague brothers. It's a constricting, claustrophobic world with narrow horizons and no chance of escape; a world in which flashes of violence are the only relief to tedium..

Brett Sprague (David Wenham) is released from prison after serving time for assault and returns to his dark, closed-in state housing home in the suburbs. Living there are his mother Sandra (Lynette Curran) and younger brothers Glenn (John Polson) and Stevie (Anthony Hayes).

Other people falling briefly into the Sprague orbit are Brett's former girlfriend Michelle (Toni Collette), Glenn's fiancee Jackie (Jeanette Cronin), the drifting, pregnant Nola (Anna Lise) and the enigmatic Abo (Pete Smith).

Movie Poster, The Boys, Festivale online magazine

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The house is dark and ugly, fitting its role as prison in the self-destructive world the brothers - "the boys" - have constructed for themselves. Brett's release triggers a downward spiral of violence and insanity which detaches the family from the few possibilities of hope offered by the outside world. One by one the boys' women escape from the house, able to go where the boys cannot: Michelle flees to her Nanna's flat, Jackie gives up after Glenn refuses to deny his brothers' influence, Nola gains the courage to leave an environment which is not the refuge she sought. Sandra is the only one who stays trapped, loyal to her boys in the way only a mother could be.

It is a great tribute to the filmmakers that they are able to sustain the atmosphere in the Sprague household for the entire length of the movie. Even when the boys venture out of the house, the hemmed-in, claustrophobic atmosphere is maintained by the lack of long shots and a judicious use of slow-mo to slow the pace. A brilliant touch is the occasional insertion of scenes from the future, wherein Brett has committed some hideous offence and is back in jail; we don't know the details but it underlines the pointless, repetitive nature of the boys' lives, their narrow horizons and their inability to break out of their self-made prison of violence and ignorance. The story gradually converges with the future glimpses, an essay in inevitability.

The Boys is a deeply disturbing movie, brilliantly made. The viewer lives within the heads of these people for a time, living their world in a surprisingly vivid way. You come out of the cinema shaken but deeply impressed with the power of the story. At the bottom of it all is the realisation - there are people out there like this.

Click here to buy films from one of the online stores in Festivale's on-line shopping mallTim Richards

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Just the facts:

Title: The Boys (1997)
Written by: Play by Gordon Graham, screenplay by Stephen Sewell  
Directed by: Rowan Woods  
Produced by: Robert Connolly; Douglas Cummins (executive); John Maynard; David Wenham (associate)
Edited by: Nick Meyers
Director of Photography: Tristan Milani  

The Players: David Wenham, Lynette Curran, Toni Collette
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 15-Jun-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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