What comes out of it is not unpleasant, only a little too boring and random.
What would a movie week look like without a new biopic? From JT Leroy to Stockholm, to Never Look Away, On the Basis of Sex and Stan & Ollie (among others), 2019 is already packed. But, apart from the excellent Song of Granite and the sublime Leto, none will pass to posterity. And this will certainly not be the case for Tolkien. However, we may see even more, especially since Bohemian Rhapsody’s triumph at the Academy Awards.
Wanting to dedicate a feature film to the creator of Lord of the Rings is legitimate.Here’s a man who changed the face of fantastic literature forever, while his classic was immortalized in the mythical triptych of Peter Jackson.
It was enough to develop a scenario worthy of the name and to move a little away from the summary of Wikipedia. Indeed, this work calibrated to the possible resumes all the conventions of the initiation narrative, from the uncaring childhood to the meeting of true friends, passing through a romance not always obvious, an obsession that will make him famous and a war that will weaken everything.
What comes out of it is not unpleasant, only a little too boring and random. Like those old, didactic textbooks full of dust. Of course, every opportunity is good for creating links between his author’s whimsical works and what he is experiencing (the Edmond effect).A mechanism that soon became heavy and predictable.
It is almost time to wait until the very end, when the horrors of the First World War finally get rid of its invasive ellipses, for the real story to come out. That of a youth traumatized by this violence, brilliantly symbolized by the novelist in his writings. It is there that visually the film takes off, leaving pretentious with some spectacular aerial plans.
Unfortunately, it is too little and too late.While the book emphasizes the notions of «imagination» and «language», the final result is practically devoid of them. The rendering is smooth, aesthetically commendable though very forgettable. Why did you call on the talented Finnish filmmaker Dome Karukoski (whose previous biopic, Tom of Finland, deserved the detour) to take away almost all artistic freedom? Since the whole well conducted practically could have been realized by anyone.
More comfortable in the secondary roles than when he had to star, Nicholas Hoult (Beast in the last X-Men) did his best, quickly admitting he was defeated in front of the greatness of the shoe. He was probably not the ideal actor to convey emotion or romantic passion; his relationship with Lily Collins ultimately creating few chills, if not during one or two scenes under the influence of Terrence Malick and Richard Wagner.
Lacking both magic and epic breath, Tolkien is simply not up to the task. What was supposed to be complex and inspiring is ultimately nothing more than entertainment, neither worse nor better.