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October 28, 2019

Tolkien (2019) --- “A Life Of Love, Courage, And Fellowship.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     At his boarding school, an orphaned J. R. R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) befriends a group of artistic outcasts (Ty Tennant, Albie Marber, and Adam Bregman), with whom he finds inspiration and courage. Over the years, the fellowship’s bond grows stronger as they experience life and love in pursuit of their artistic dreams. But when World War I breaks out, Tolkein and the fellowship are tested beyond breaking point. From his childhood to his school days, to his love life, to seeing the horrors of war, watch as these life experiences provide a foundation that would later inspire Tolkien to write one of the most beloved and iconic fantasy series to-date, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
     Tolkien once wrote in the preface of The Lord of the Rings, "One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead." And this film - directed by Dome Karukoski (Tom of Finland) and written by David Gleeson (Don’t Go, The Grimm Legacy) and Stephen Beresford (Pride) - effectively captures that concept. The story bounces between different points in his life, primarily going between his present, as he is soldiering in the trenches of WW1, to his past, when he was just another schoolboy, before the war. It tells how through our lives, we make connections with other people and events that inspire creativity and fuel our imagination; that is how it was for J.R.R. Tolkien. All in all, this was a great story about accomplishing one’s goals, overcoming obstacles or adversities, and letting our experiences inspire us to create something beautiful.
     The cast performances were great. Nicholas Hoult (The Current War) plays Tolkien with restraint and sympathy that makes him an excellent choice for the role, while Lily Collins (Les Miserables on PBS) was lovely as his future wife and muse, Edith Batter. Anthony Boyle (Ordeal by Innocence), Patrick Gibson (The White Princess, Darkest Minds), and Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk, The King) were memorable as the adult versions of Tolkien’s friends. The youthful counterparts of the fellowship - Harry Gilby (Casualty), Mimi Keene (Close), Adam Bregman (Genius), Albie Marber (Outlander), and Ty Tennent (War of the Worlds) - were also impressive.

     Overall, Tolkien (2019) is a conventional and predictable biopic that cares very deeply for its subject matter. The story was far from perfect and yet it demonstrates how our life experiences not only shape us into the person we are today but also show how they can inspire us to create something beautiful. The cast performances were great and the characters knew how to play off each other’s strengths. Would I watch this again? Maybe, maybe not. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only under the stipulation that you prepare yourself for something a little more thought to provoke than action-packed.
Final Vote --- 6.7 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
The Aftermath (2019)
Born of Hope (2009)
Colette (2018)
The Hunt for Gollum (2009)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (2002)
Red Joan (2018)

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