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Boys will be boys

A harrowing but brilliant look at male violence, The Boys packs an emotional punch. Director ROWAN WOODS talks fear, horror and dysfunction.

Words: Nigel Floyd

It has been a year dominated by big. empty popcorn

movies that substitute eye-popping spectacle for emotional involvement. The most memorable films of

1998 have been those that told us something about human behaviour. in a language unique to cinema: Ken Loaclt's My Name Is .lm'. lit'ick Zonca's The Dream Li/i' Hist/reels- and now Australian filmmaker Rowan Woods‘ The Boys.

However. while Zonca and Loach employ a deliberately low—key naturalism. Woods fuses a similar attention to social context and non-judgemental observation with a self- consciously structured narrative. He also uses highly stylised and processed video and Super 8 footage for the contextual and flash-forward scenes that take place outside the imploding household of the dysfunctional Sprague family.

like Loach. Leigh and (Tassavetesf explains Woods. ‘l‘m interested in getting actors to smell and feel right. But The Boys also intersects with a wholly different. almost horror genre style of filmmaking. in which the way the narrative is told is dictated by a grander plan. We used that fragmentary. mysterious nature of the flash-forwards to wind up the tension. And also to make the audience work. by creating a

Rowan Woods

'You know that dreadful stuff has gone on, because you're told that these boys have done a horrible thing. But you don't actually know who the victim is.’

Family from hell: David Wenham in The Boys

jigsaw puzzle effect. 'l‘hroughout the movie there are old-fashioned red herrings. You know that dreadful stuff has gone on. because you‘re told that these boys have done a horrible thing. But you don't actually know who the victim is.‘

Perhaps it was this radical use of suspenseful horror movie techniques. in the context of a bleak. terrifying vision of working-class male violence. that caused The Boys to be denied the Best Film prize at this year's .»'\ustralian Film lnstitute award ceremony. The judges' decision was greeted with silent incredulity. especially as The Boys had scooped every other major award: Best Direction. Best Screenplay from Another Source. Best Supporting Actor (John l’olson) and Best Supporting Actress (Toni Collette). The latter gives an extraordinary performance as Michelle. the gutsy girlfriend of the eldest. most dangerous Sprague brother. Brett.

In fact. for a film called The Boys. Woods‘ movie pays a great deal of attention to the fate of its women. an emphasis that tnost markedly distinguishes it from (iordon Graham‘s original stage play.

"l‘he boys themselves are quite stunted emotionally.‘ says Woods. ‘ln fact they're little boys in all sorts of ways. and their mother treats them as such. So what we are seeing is a gloriously dysfunctional family. where the women. to varying degrees. recognise this fact attd react to save themselves. to escape the Sprague clan.

‘In the play. the women never left the house; they stay trapped inside. soliloquising about what the boys had done. and why they had been sent down. Bttt I felt duty bound to represent the women's existence in that domestic space. where they are experiencing

real-life horror. I think Michelle is a heroic female

character. because she’s the only one who stands toe- to-toe with the scariest guy in the film.‘

Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 11 Dec. Glasgow Film Theatre from Sun 27 Dec. See review.

preview FILM

Rough cuts

Checking out the big picture.

CAN PETER MULLAN continue his prize-winning success at the 1998 European Film Awards? He was the toast of Cannes for his performance

in My Name Is Joe and put Venice into

a spin with four awards for his directorial debut Orphans. Now it’s his talent in front of the camera that's been rewarded again as he joins ltaly's Roberto Benigni (for the huge hit Life Is Beautiful), Denmark's Ulrich Thomsen (for the controversial Festen) and Spain's Javier Bardem (for Almodovar's Live Flesh) in the Best Actor category. My Name Is Joe is also nominated for Best Film. The European Film Awards take place in London on Friday 4 December and will be broadcast on Sky Premier two days later at 9.30pm.

THE BAFTA SCOTLAND New Talent Awards, which will be held in Edinburgh on Sunday 4‘ December, highlight the next generation of Scottish filmmaking talent in eight categories, including Best Performance, which is sponsored by The List. Three up-and-coming actors have been nominated: James Young for Pan Fried, Kevin James Kelly for Smashing and Joel Strachan for Swimming With The figer. Results will appear in the next issue.

DNA FILMS, THE production outfit headed by producers Andrew Macdonald (Trainspotting) and Duncan Kenworthy (Four Weddings AndA Funeral), has unveiled eleven projects on its development slate. These include The Final Curtain, the story of two bitter rivals in the TV light entertainment industry, that

' features the Scottish triumvirate of

producer Christopher Young, director Patrick Harkins and writer John Hodge. DNA‘s Lottery funded

franchise will also produce writer-

director Peter Capaldi’s Saracen Street about a second-rate singer adopted by gangsters as their own Sinatra - and screenwriter John McNally’s crime drama Marcus Is A Twat.

Peter Multan: the mantelpiece must be getting heavy

3—17 Dec 1998 THEUST55