Recommendation: 3/5 Stars, STREAM
Plot: “The formative years of the orphaned author, J.R.R. Tolkien, as he finds friendship, love, and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.” -IMBD
Review: The cultural impact of J.R.R. Tolkien is impossible to deny. Even if you have never found yourself lost in his books or watched as his characters come to life on the big screen, his presence is still felt. “Tolkien” attempts to show us where the seeds were planted and how this author pulled characters and plot points from his own experiences. By doing so, it uncovers the foundation on which one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century stood.
Tolkien is hit with tragedy at an early age. Losing both his mother and father, he is forced to lock the pain away and be the mature brother with a stiff upper lip. What comes next would test him beyond belief and serve as the ignition point for all that we know. Adopted into wealth afforded him the ability to receive a quality education, but it also meant being the new kid in school and fighting a sort of imposter syndrome. It is these scenes which are my favorite in the movie. Watching a young Tolkien interact with his high-minded friends and grow closer as a cohort made me smile. Even at an early age, the filmmakers in this movie begin to reveal a path that our future author will walk.
As Tolkien ages, we begin to see him craft a deep abiding love for language and stories. Shaped by love and war, his imagination cannot help but string together grand quests, invented languages, and battles of good versus evil. With his friends at his side, we even get our first taste of “The Fellowship.” The scenes comprising his formative years are when the stories really begin to come alive for the audience and we get a sense of the internal and external battles that contribute to his future creations.
“Tolkien” ends quietly allowing the audience to explore further. For us, the rest of the movie is history. We are invited to explore it through his novels. Many films have attempted to tell the story of beloved authors. Of those films, this one reveals enough to pique your curiosity, but not much else. As an audience member, I found myself wanting more. The story feels complete, but the emotional connection to this character doesn’t. For this reason, I recommend streaming this one whenever you get the chance.
Be good to each other,
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