Movie Review – “About a Boy”

August 7, 2002

About a Boy

(Based on the book by Nick Hornby)

Directed by Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz.

Comedy and a beautiful soundtrack.

Will (Hugh Grant) is a lonely selfish loser who learns some important lessons from an unavoidable relationship with young geeky-boy named Marcus (Nicholas Hoult.)

Will’s day is made up of units. Filling in units of time with leisure activities. Watching countdown, buying CDs, playing pool, shopping for designer clothes and conjuring up ways to meet women. Will doesn’t work and he’s never had to either. His father’s success as the writer of a Christmas song keeps the royalties flowing in and keeps Will at home and on the couch.

Will develops a single mother predator strategy when he hits on the idea that single mother’s make brilliant no-strings attached flings. With this in mind he seeks out the local support group SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) armed with the a single father sob story a fictitious 2 year old son called Ned.

It’s here Will meets his first target of prey, single mum Suzie (Victoria Smurfit) and scores his first date, a SPAT picnic in the park. Their first date brings with it, along with Suzie’s own baby, a tag-along kid, Marcus, the son of Suzie’s friend Fiona (Toni Collete.) This is the beginning of the unusual bond that develops throughout the film between Will and Marcus.

Will plays a reluctant default-type guardian as Marcus pushes his way into Will’s life seeking comfort, security and shelter from the bullies at school and his mother’s suicidal depression at home. As this is happening , much to his surprise, Will finds himself taking an interest in Marcus’s well being. His first adrenaline hit of caring outside his own miserable life rushes through his heart when he takes Marcus to buy a “cool” pair of trainers to help him blend in at school and escape the vicious bullies.

That’s when Will meets Rachel, the most desirable single mum yet and he finds himself falling in love for the first time. “Oh what a tangled web we weave” the situation is complicated by the fact that Rachel is under the impression that Will is Marcus’s father. Will’s heart is struck when Rachel angrily pushes him away pointing out the shallowness of his deceitful behaviour. Will crawls back home, finds his place on the couch, and reverts back filling in units of time.

Will’s solitude brings him to the realisation of how much he cares about Rachel, Marcus and Fiona – a realisation that sees the normally self-obsessed Will put himself on the line to help Fiona and Marcus. The care and support he uses to save his friends actually pulls him out of his own self-centred hole and he end up saving himself at the same time.

The Soundtrack is from “Badly Drawn Boy” and it’s brilliant and definitely one of the best elements in the film. Lots of full lush guitar sounds and simple effective basslines. It’s beautifully complementary to the film.


Caroline Kinny-Lewis

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