Boychoir Review

Posted 9 years ago by myetvmedia

The title of François Girard’s new film “Boychoir” starring Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates is spot on, this is a movie that transports us to a rarified world where young boys sing like angels. Of course having a voice like an angel does not make you one and the incredible ability to sing like an angel is fleeting, gone when boys hit puberty. Garrett Wareing (Stat) and Joe West (Devon) along with the incredibly talented boychoir remind us of the tremendous talent, the remarkable musical ability of the human voice. It renews our respect and love for the art and reminds us of the selfless devotion to nurturing, mentoring, teaching and supporting these boys that is required. This movie celebrates this incredible talent so rare at this level of excellence. Kudos to composer Brian Byrne for creating a magnificent score that will move you to tears. The technical sound mixing is extraordinary, transporting the audience to the live performances as if we were really there. The story is about a large group of people, the boy choir, which on its own is a character and had to be treated as a single organism by the camera’s lens. Award winning cinematographer David Franco (Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)) skilfully works his camera magic with the boys and the magnificent settings including the interior of St. Patrick’s cathedral, NYC and Yale. The film’s editor, Gaetan Huot and sound technician Tom Nelson have created an incredible visual and audio experience that is thoroughly moving.

Dustin Hoffman cements the movie with a highly tuned performance that is both restrained and powerful, and it is when he enters the story that we really engage. We discover that the trouble youth, Stat (Garrett Wareing) has an amazing voice and his principal (Debra Winger) has secretly been trying to get him in front of the only person who can do anything about it, renowned Choir Master Anton Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman). Young Garrett Wareing has a screen maturity that is well beyond his age and an incredibly talented supporting cast of boys including Joe West. These boys deserve special applause. There is no one better suited to directing this film than the award winning and highly talented Canadian director François Girard (Cirque du Soleil, ZED (2008), Zarkana (2011); The Red Violin, 1998; Peter Gabriel’s Secret World,1994). Girard loves music and understands what it takes to make it the centre of large productions. He won the Grammy for his 1994 concert film ‘Peter Gabriel’s Secret World’, directed one of the episodes for the series ‘Yo-yo Ma Inspired by Bach’. He has directed a number of plays and operas including PARSIFAL at the Metropolitan Opera and been commissioned by Cirque du Soleil to write and direct both ZED (Tokyo, 2008) and Zarkana (Las Vegas, 2011).

Kathy Bates is Headmistress of the Boychoir school and there is no messing with her. She is clearly in control of this creative, colourful and highly emotional cast of characters. Josh Lucas as Stat’s biological father, presents himself as a truly despicable character who eventually tries to redeem himself but leaves us with a queasy feeling about his future parenting skills. Screenwriter Ben Ripley (Source Code) has tapped into the little known world of pre pubescent boys struggling to understand who they are and if they matter. ‘Boychoir’ was the Closing Night film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) and also played earlier at TIFF14. The audience wiped away a few tears amidst hearty applause as Josh Groban’s song “Mystery of Your Gift” closed the film. More than a movie for music lovers this one one of those rare movies the whole family can enjoy.

Moira Romano

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