Sunday, 4 September 2011

The History Boys Review

I normally don't mind seeing a movie based on a play.  The problem here though is that, most of the time I felt like I was watching a play and not a movie.  The great thing about film is that you can do so much more than you can on stage.  For the History Boys, they failed to take advantage of that.  Overall the story is very good.  It's about a group of English schoolboys trying to get into Oxford and Cambridge and the relationships they have with their teachers and each other and the lessons they learn about life along the way.  But it never decides if it wants to be a play or a movie.  There is too much jumping back and forth between that wooden, short lines dialogue you see in plays and the more fluid exposition that comes from a combination of decent writing and good camera work.  As a result, the History Boys never grabs the viewer.

While the premise for the film is very good, the delivery of the story is not.  Billed as a comedy, there is actually very little humour to be had.  It also never decides who the protagonist is.  Is it the group of boys?  One boy in particular?  Hector the teacher?  The examples can go on.  Just when it looks like there is going to be a plot that develops, it derails and goes in a completely different direction.  So, for most of the two hours, I found myself confused and uninterested.  It also doesn't help that I cannot see Richard Griffiths on screen without picturing him as Duncan from King Ralph.  So, just when it seems to tie everything together and wrap up, they throw a couple of twists at the end that are just completely unnecessary.  While sort of relevant, they don't seem to fit at all with the overall theme of the story and just confound the viewer even more.

Don't see it.  It always seems to be on the precipice of being good and then falls short.

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