Sunday, November 12, 2006

The History Boys

Sorry I haven't written a decent film review for so long. Blame School. That, and the fact that I just haven't bothered. :)

It’s Sheffield, early 1980s, and eight talented students have achieved top grades at A-level and have Oxbridge in their sights. The problem? “They’re clever but they’re crass.” So along comes Stephen Campbell Moore, a radical History teacher to change their manners, style, and even teach them to change History... Sadly, the boys’ new found adoration for History and the musings of Nietzsche mean that their interest in the lessons of homosexual teacher Hector (Richard Griffiths, excellent) is displaced, and this film, with its many themes lined up, examines the school, its students and learning History.

The History Boys is a film I connect and love for many reasons. The performances are stellar, and Stephen Campbell Moore and Samuel Barnett are standouts in the film, for their portrayals of the creative, innovative teacher and the sweet, sensitive gay teenager respectively. Samuel Barnett especially; he basically owned this movie, and every scene that he was in, I adored. He gives his gawky character such a tenderness of spirit and kind soul that it’s impossible not to love him.


But every member of the cast is a treat to watch; Dominic Cooper embracing the lead with vivacity, charm, and that raffish charm of an 80s teenager. Richard Griffiths is also excellent, and lends some warmth to his potentially disturbing portrayal of a man with an unnatural penchant for groping his students in return for a student-led lesson such as “How to use the present subjunctive in a French brothel”. The cast bind the wonderful Alan Bennett script together beautifully, and the chemistry and rapport between all the characters is unmatched, natural, and a total delight to watch. This by-the-book adaptation of Bennett’s play doesn’t add anything to the play, but that’s simply a good thing, because the genius and vibrancy of the play is fabulous already.

Though depicting a High school in the 80s, I could still connect with this movie with my 21st century ideals. The teacher/student frictions and development of their relationship and respect is well-drawn and intelligent. The wit in which the process of getting into Oxbridge is shown, is reflective of nowadays, and there are one-liners here that are bound to raise a smile (“History? It’s just one f-cking thing after another, isn’t it?). Lastly, a cool 80s soundtrack guides our protagonists through the story with ease and warmth.

A fantastically enjoyable, uplifting experience, The History Boys can be enjoyed by everyone, from a Cambridge-educated boffin to someone who just wants a laugh. You’ll end up being drawn in by each character, hoping for their successes, and being moved by the relationships depicted in the movie. The best film of the year so far; it even makes you remember the good things about History...

17 comments:

Mosky said...

Hi! I've read your profile and I've felt so identifycate ;) When I was your age, I wanted to become a writer, but my parents didn't though that it could be a real job, so I studied a degree in journalism (and now I'm waiting for a reply from an editorial XD). I think that if you really want to be a film critic, you should think about a degree in journalism. In that way, you'll go to college, as your parents seem to want, and be allowed to get your dream. Don't forget is your life, and although you must respect your parents, the real respect comes from respecting yourself :)

Sorry if there's something wrong in the text above, but my English isn't very good (I'm Spanish).

Good luck getting your dreams :)

Anonymous said...

Great review! Can't wait now.

Anonymous said...

I got 12A. great.

Lizza said...

Great review! You make me want to see the movie.

Got a 12A rating, jeez.

RC said...

emma, your review really made me interested in seeing this film...glad you liked it.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Emma said...

Thanks. :)

Monkey said...

Well, I agree about Barnett. he was a buff ting

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The History Boys SoundTrack said...

The movie is directed by Nicholas Hytner. It is great comedian movie.I laughed out loud and cried and left the cinema with a smile on my face.

The History Boys SoundTrack said...

The movie is directed by Nicholas Hytner. It is great comedian movie.I laughed out loud and cried and left the cinema with a smile on my face.

The History Boys SoundTrack said...

The movie is directed by Nicholas Hytner. It is great comedian movie.I laughed out loud and cried and left the cinema with a smile on my face.

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