For years now, we have been telling, summarising, embellishing and romanticising authors’ lives who’ve marked the centuries. The Bronte sisters, Truman Capote, Kafka, James M. Barrie or Jane Austen, writers’ biopics aren’t what’s missing in the cinema museum. But it was necessary for Dome Karukoski to put in sound and image the life of one of the most inventive writers of the 20th century : J. R. R. Tolkien, the founder of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings’ universe.
The biopic takes us back to Tolkien’s youth, driving us through the loss of his mother but also his meetings with his best friends, artists, painters, writers who will open his mind to other horizons and who will often give him the inspiration he needs. We will also immerse ourselves in the writer’s love life, a life he will spend loving one and only woman. It’s the First World War that will be the disruptive element of the film, willing to test Tolkien’s loves and friendships.
J.R.R.R Tolkien is one of the most important science fiction authors of the 20th century and although it’s interesting to discover his life as a teenager, we are missing something. Tolkien is a genius and it’s that genius who doesn’t present itself in the film. Despite a very honourable performance by Nicholas Hoult, whose evolved quite well since the Skins years, the film is unfortunately too long for too few really important events. We would’ve liked to dive into the mind of this writer of genius to try to understand, to touch with our fingers a mind as bright as the one he had. But unfortunately, it’s not the main character who stands out….
What brings us to appreciate Tolkien is above all the friendship of four boys : Tolkien, Geoffrey, Robert and Christopher, through whom we discover the author’s true personality, which isn’t really depicted faithfully in this biopic. The character is bland and tasteless, except when he finds himself with his club, the one that defends the arts in all its forms and allows him to express his true personality. This is the Tolkien we expected to find throughout the film, but unfortunately he appears in only a few scenes. It’s hard to really immerse ourselves into Tolkien because we know the universe that he created from scratch, a universe so far from the one presented in Karukoski’s film. To be honest, we lack a lot of inventiveness in this biopic, we languish for the whole movie to have something to eat, we expect something special that’s out of the ordinary like the author and his work but it doesn’t seem to happen… Until the very end when we surprisingly get emotional about a man who has lost a lot but who also manages to see all that he has won…
Tolkien, in theaters now. Take your tickets on Eden Cinemas.
Director : Dome Karukoski / Cast : Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Patrick Gibson / Genre : Drama, Biography / Distribution : KRS Releasing / 112 MINS / Rate : PG-13