HOW WOULD you define the essence of a family?

This is the question of the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s book, About a Boy., which tells the story of two “problematic” boys who find themselves filling up the spaces of their lives, and later on building their own concept of a family

A carefree 30-something-year-old North London bachelor, Will Freeman (Hugh Grant) has a routine of dating women simply for fun. Will then decides to date single mothers. Since he thinks these women do not expect long-term relationships and even favor casual sex compared to single women.

To meet such women, Will joins a single parents’ support group and even pretends being a father to a young boy.

Will later singles out one of the group’s member, Susie (Victoria Smurfit), who then introduces 12-year-old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) on one of their dates. As stubborn as Will, Marcus is a favorite victim of bullies in school. He finds solace in the bachelor’s unwilling friendship, particularly after Marcus’ mother Fiona (Toni Collete) tries to commit suicide.

Their friendship soon solidifies as Will helps Marcus cope with school and at the same time, how to be “cool”. On the other hand, Marcus makes Will realize the joys having a family can bring to his life.

Marcus analyzes the situation he and his mother have and soon realizes that they would not survive if there were only two of them. Thus, Marcus tries to convince Will to move in so that they will be a “complete” family. Being an ever-commitment-fearing person that he is, Will declines the invitation. As a result, Marcus stops going to Will’s house and tries to make it on his own.

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During one of the single parents’ group’s parties, Will meets Rachelle (Rachelle Weisz), a single mother and a painter. Informed that the bachelor has a son, Rachelle then asks Will to bring his alleged son to her house so she could introduce him to her son. With no son to show, Will asks Marcus for help.

Everything goes along smoothly until Will and Rachelle go on a date. Bothered by his conscience, Will admits to Rachelle that Marcus is not his son. They break up.

Throughout the film, Will’s character is shown as immature and egocentric. Nonetheless, Will reveals that he genuinely cares for Marcus when he helps out the boy during his performance at a school concert.

What makes the movie special is how Will and Marcus’ special friendship manages to affect not only their own lives, but those of others as well. It proves that nothing in this world happens by accident. Things turn out the way it is because we allow it.

About A Boy tells its audience the importance of the family. Being the basic support group an individual can have, it has the power to mold and give a person his identity and direction.

Not everyone can be as lucky as Marcus and Will who coincidentally find each other to fill in the big emotional spaces in their lives. It is unimaginable how people like them bear the emotional deficiency they have since childhood.

The movie somehow poses a challenge to its viewers, not necessarily only to those people who do not have a family to call, but especially to those who have a solid “family”—they should work on their differences, strengthen their foundation, and seek the guidance of God.

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