Directed by Chris and Paul Weitz.
Running Time: 101 mins
Rated: MA 15+
Will (Grant) is a 38-year-old confirmed bachelor whose father left him the
royalties to a hit song he wrote in 1958. As a result Will has no reason to
work. He has, in fact, done nothing with his life, of which he is immensely
proud - "I really am shallow," he owns as a badge of honour. Will is
petrified of commitment and goes from one casual relationship to the next.
In his pursuit of the next conquest he accidentally meets Marcus (Hoult),
the 12-year-old son of the chronically-depressed, single parent Fiona
(Collette). Marcus plays matchmaker and in the process gets under Will's
heavily guarded defences.
Based on Nick Hornby's best-selling novel of the same name, screenwriter
Peter Hedges, famous for writing What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, has adapted
this material for the cinema with affection and good humour.
About a boy starts out as a caustic study of the 'me generation'. Hugh
Grant plays the obnoxious and narcissistic Will to perfection. The range of
the character shows us what a good actor Grant actually is. It's a push for
us to accept that Marcus is as precocious and assured as the script
portrays him but, given that it's possible, Hoult realises the role very
well indeed. Toni Collette poignantly portrays the desperation and
dislocation of Fiona.
About a boy is a classic conversion story with enough twists for it to be a
realistic feel-good film. It names all sorts of important issues from
singles who opt out of marriage and having children, to school bullying,
lone parenting and suicide. With Australia's low birth rate, the increasing
number of households with no children and our high rate of youth suicide,
these are telling issues for the whole community.
Although it has strong language and adult themes that will offend some
viewers, About a boy holds a face up to my generation and asks us to think
about who we are and what could give greater meaning to our lives now, and
in the future. May we listen, those of us with ears to hear!
Richard Leonard SJ