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Boys, The

Director: Rowan Woods


Australian director Rowan Woods’ brilliantly controlled feature debut is a fierce study of male violence, family loyalty and domestic imprisonment. Yet despite a Ken Loach-style attention to social context and non-judgmental observation, his dissection of the twisted psychodynamics of an imploding ‘white trash’ family pushes beyond naturalism into a realm of forced hyper-realism. A quintessentially cinematic experience, its rich visual language is complemented by fine ensemble acting and a cleverly structured narrative; Stephen Sewell’s script created almost unbearbable tension with its deft handling of the complex time-shifts inherited from Gordon Graham’s original stage play.
Fresh out of prison, sentimental psychopath Brett sprague (David Wenham) struggles to contain the seething resentments and external pressures that threaten to tear his family apart. In the course of a drink-and-drugs-fuelled day, the fraught relationship between Brett, his downtrodden mother (Lynette Curran), his two brothers Glenn (John Polson) and Stevie (Anthony Hayes), and his sullen girlfriend (Toni Collette) reach breaking point…
Intercutting spiralling domestic madness with flashes forward to its consequences, this terrifying vision of social exclusion, male insecurity and frustrated rage builds inexorably to a controlled explosion of savagery. Yet the act itself, the defining moment of the entire film, is never seen. It doesn’t need to be; we’ve seen all we need to see. A stunning piece of film-making that reaffirms one’s faith in the visceral and intellectual power of the medium.

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