DIRECTED BY PETER HEDGES
STARRING: HUGH GRANT, NICHOLAS HOULT, TONI COLETTE AND RACHEL WEISZ
“What I meant was, I don’t think couples are the future. You need backup. And the way I saw it, me and Will both had our backups.”
‘About a Boy’ ended on those lines, and I think the title’s pretty fitting. It’s about a boy and nothing more, that’s it. Only that there’s a considerable ploy with the fact that a child could father a man at times, if not always. That’s what Will (Hugh Grant) tries to emphasize, that’s what Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) did in the first place, he helped bring out a certain ‘Will’ that people could actually like, and he might not have to conform with being an isle anymore because people just won’t let him be one. He teaches the boy to kiss-up, the boy teaches him to find himself, and I doubt if that would be hard in any way with a beauty like Rachel around to catalyze the change.
I was right in mentioning once that Peter Hedges could enchant me in my meanest of phases, and I don’t attribute that to masterful filmmaking, but of simple honesty and an aim at higher well being. ‘Pieces of April’ proved to give it all in one shot, ‘Dan in real life’ had Steve Carell, but was alright otherwise. The best thing about his kind of films is that they don’t give me the funny feeling of being weak in my knees by falling for melodrama, but rather a strength that here was a man who wanted to differ by looking for goodness and showing just that. There aren’t complexities or stressful interpretation of character, it’s all plainly presented and the show’s fairytale, which is what enhances its charm and I find that feeling unmatchable. There is just so much wellness, so much prosperity of heart and I found myself cheering with the crowd when Will took the stage, smiling as much as Marcus and probably as excited too, and that’s some impact for you.
She so easily inspires hate, Toni Colette. I came out absolutely loathing her in ‘Gone Baby Gone’, perhaps one could attribute that to excessive empathy towards the protagonist (played by Casey Affleck) but it’s undeniable that she’s a negative heavyweight, and what she serves to do in this film is to not enrage but to bring one down, if not to her level, but remarkably close to that. Yes, it is funny to see her cry, and it is funny to hear what Marcus has to say about her state, but this humour, as we find, isn’t ultimate although it lasts the length of the film. There’s a love replacement, and that ‘love’ isn’t just ‘love’ as illustrated by the headline, it’s an overall fondness, for as Marcus puts it, you can’t just live with two people you find you need more to keep you happy. The message is put forth loud and clear by a band of an idler, the woman he ‘loves’ (for the very first time in his life), an introverted child, his older ‘girlfriend’, and his hysterical mother who learns to not hold on to vegetarianism as much as she should hold on to her only son. The end is the beginning, but it’s not just feel-good stuff.
It’s a Peter Hedges film, for heaven’s sake. Something I’m obliged to like, because I wasn’t born a punk and neither was I made so.