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This Boy's Life (1993)

Director:
Michael Caton-Jones
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Drama
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Et gutteliv
RUNNING TIME
113 minutes
Producer:
Art Linson
Screenwriter (based on the memoirs by Tobias Wolff):
Robert Getchell


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Dwight Robert De Niro
Caroline Ellen Barkin
Toby Leonardo DiCaprio
Arthur Gayle Jonah Blechman
Pearl Eliza Dushku
Roy Chris Cooper
Chuck Bolger Tobey Maguire

 

Review

Based on writer Tobias Wolff's memoirs published in 1989, this film helmed by British director Michael Caton-Jones (Memphis Belle) gives a harrowing and nuanced look at what it was like to grow up for arguably millions of boys in the western hemisphere during the 20th century, under the crippled guidance of abusive fathers and stepfathers who took out their lack of achievement and misconceived ideals of a dwindling macho-culture on their own sons and stepsons. Wolff's story is brilliantly adapted for the screen by Robert Getchell, who had proven his talent for writing about small-town life before with Alice Doesn't Life Here Anymore. The film offers warmth and poignancy in equal doses, where scenes of bonding, comradery and the promise of youth are interspersed with scenes of violence and oppression by an essentially self-loathing parent. This Boy's Life is a wonderful film in almost every way, but it wouldn't have been as effective and emotionally draining/rewarding had it not been for young Leonardo DiCaprio's brilliant performance and his interplay with Robert De Niro's nuanced role as the stepfather. They are accompanied by fine work from Ellen Barkin as Wolff's mother.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 12.11.2019 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 31.07.1996 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang