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TOLKIEN

SYNOPSIS:
The formative years of the orphaned author J.R.R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult), as he finds friendship and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.

Review by Louise Keller:
The origin of J.R.R. Tolkien's journey about fellowship, quests and courage is beautifully described in this handsome film in which imagination, a love of books, language and a girl who loves Wagner are key. In bringing this unknown story to the screen, Finnish director Dome Karukoski (Tom of Finland) has perfectly cast Nicholas Hoult as the protagonist: the man who later penned The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The rise and rise of Hoult from his auspicious role in About A Boy (2002) aged 13 (he started acting aged 7) has been nothing but spectacular; the finesse by which he has veered from genre to genre is impressive. His recent role in The Favourite post X-Men offers yet another facet. Here he captures the intelligence, creativity and vulnerability of the young Tolkien as the philologist searches for his own voice.

Flitting back and forth in time (screenplay by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford), we are able to partake Tolkien's journey: from his orphaned childhood, impecunious circumstances, collegiate relationships and emotional attachment to Edith (Lily Collins). She is the girl who inspires and teaches him that sound and meaning are equally critical to the importance of words. Collins is lovely, exuding warmth and an inner beauty that transcends the screen.

Crucial is the establishment of Tolkien's relationships with three book-loving fellow students at Birmingham, who form the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (TCBS) and are intent to 'change the world' through the power of art, music and poetry. The boys (Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, all excellent) talk over tea, sprawled on the leather chairs at Barrows. Listen for the gems of wisdom concerning beauty and unrequited love. Reminiscent of the Dead Poet's Society, there is beauty in the exuberance and inspiration of these meetings and interactions.

I was fascinated to learn and understand the reason behind Tolkien's compulsion to create another language. Also his deep-seated need for a soul-mate. Watch for the unique performance of Wagner's Ring Cycle in the theatre basement - amid purple cloaks and ostrich feathers. There is magic within this fantasy. A different vibe but equally memorable is the scene when a despairing, drunk Tolkien makes his protest at Oxford under the glittering night stars. All this through the prism of war and the burning desire to discover treasure.

Tolkien is indeed a treasure. I was stimulated, moved and enthralled.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TOLKIEN (M)
(US, 2019)

CAST: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Harry Gilby, Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney, Derek Jacobi

PRODUCER: Peter Chernin, David Ready, Kris Thykier, Jenno Topping

DIRECTOR: Dome Karukoski

SCRIPT: David Gleeson, Stephen Beresford

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lasse Frank Johannessen

EDITOR: Chris Gill, Harri Ylonen

MUSIC: Thomas Newman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Grant Montgomery

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 13, 2019







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