I avoided this movie.
Two film reviewers I respect weren’t fans of this film. Then I caught it on a long flight while on holidays. I was charmed straight away.
Okay, anyone who knows me understands I’m a sucker for a good period drama, and this is one of the better ones, yet many don’t like it.
Playing the lead is Nicholas Hoult, an actor I fell in love with when he played Tony, a charismatic but disturbing teen in the TV series, Skins. Shortly after I caught him in A Single Man and my crush continued.
Tolkien explores a brotherhood.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an orphan who found kinship with a group of guys who influence his life and his writing. Watching youthful friendships strengthen is a delightful aspect of this film. Another is one of the most romantic love stories I’ve seen captured in cinema.
Tolkien’s courtship of Edith Bratt is pure magic.
There’s a restaurant scene where Edith, played by Lily Collins, encourages Tolkien to open his imagination when initially he is embarrassed by his own musings. The delight portrayed by Hoult as he gains confidence creating an enchanted world, and the loving satisfaction Collins portrays in assuring him, are equally matched.
Maybe I’m just old and sentimental. I’ve read the reasons so many others are indifferent about this film.
But for me it’s about performance.
Dome Karukoski, who also directed Tom of Finland, knows how to direct actors, elevating everyone on screen to the same standard. This leaves you to get lost in the imagery and the characters.