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About a boy (a movie by Paul and Chris Weitz)

  • Fiche de cours
  • Quiz
  • Profs en ligne
  • Comprendre et analyser les messages transmis dans un film.
Points clés
  • About a boy (2002) est un film de Chris et Paul Weitz, adapté d’un roman de Nick Horby, publié en 1998. Il met en scène Hugh Grant (Will Freeman), Toni Collette (Fiona Brewer) et Nicholas Hoult (Marcus Brewer).
  • Dans ce film, chacun des trois personnages principaux est inadapté à sa manière : Will est un vieux célibataire immature, Fiona une mère célibataire dépressive et Marcus, un petit garçon trop mature pour son âge.
  • Le film montre comment ces trois personnages vont s’aider mutuellement.
1. Presentation

About a Boy is a film by Chris and Paul Weitz, and an adaptation of a book written by Nick Hornby in 1998. The film was released in 2002 and the main characters are Hugh Grant (Will Freeman), Toni Collette (Fiona Brewer) and Nicholas Hoult (Marcus Brewer).
The story is set in London. Will is an immature well-off 38-year old bachelor who decides to date single mums and have as many liaisons as possible, explaining to them that he, too, has a child. Of course he has not. But one day, he meets Marcus, Fiona’s son.
We will see here how the characters are related to each other and the links that unite them throughout the story, making their lives interdependent.

2. Isolation

All three characters are isolated from the world they live in.

Will’s isolation is due to his own choices and he makes sure he does not get involved with anybody. When he does with Marcus and his mother, his reaction is to back out. He does not have to work because he can make a comfortable living thanks to the royalties he gets from a successful Christmas song written by his deceased father years before, and he spends his time watching TV or courting single mums. As he does not want to be hurt by others, he prefers staying alone. But it will be difficult for him to continue leading a solitary life when Marcus meets him every day at his own house seeking for help after his mom’s suicide attempt.

Marcus is a 12-year old boy who lives with his depressed mother and he will do everything he can to make her happy, especially after her failed suicide attempt. Consequently, he is far from the preoccupations of his schoolmates. He is perceived by them as a weird boy and most of them bully him. He wears old-fashioned clothes and talks to himself. But, contrary to Will, he wants to make as many friends as he can, so that the latter can help him if his mom decides to kill herself again. He realizes that he needs more than one person to live. As we can see, he is isolated at home and at school as well.

As for Fiona, her depression isolates her, too. Even Marcus feels he cannot do much to help her as he is very young to understand the situation. He thinks that she is sad because her relationships never last very long. But in fact they are short-lived because of her depression which is getting worse as the days go by.

3. Help !

All three characters need help and they will get it from each other. Will’s immaturity helps him understand Marcus in the sense that it is easier for him to cope with kids than with adults. And Marcus is too mature to understand the problems his schoolmates are confronted to. We sometimes wonder who the adult is, and who the child is. As far as Will is concerned, he will become an adult himself when he realizes how deeply in love he is with Rachel, a single mum he has courted. When she tells him how pointless his life is, he decides to change not to lose her. At the end of the story, Will has become an adult and Marcus is a normal child.

The last scene of the story shows a happy Fiona. She has probably understood that her illness can be cured if she really wants to, and she is pleased to see the changes that have taken place in her son’s behavior. She has accepted the fact that he must be a child, not an adult looking after her.

4. Conclusion

About a Boy is a romantic comedy which illustrates how the relations between people can change lives for the best. Thanks to friendship, love and help, people can achieve great aims for themselves and others. We advise to watch it, or read the book !

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