Directed by François Girard
Stet, a troubled and angry 11-year-old orphan from a small Texas town, ends up at a Boy Choir school back East after the death of his single mom. Completely out of his element, he finds himself in a battle of wills with a demanding Choir Master who recognizes a unique talent in this young boy as he pushes him to discover his creative heart and soul in music.
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★★★½ review by Anthony Le on Letterboxd
Part of A Film A Day
Film #3 at CIFF: Boychoir
Boychoir, director Francois Girard's latest film, if described in four words is a heartwarming, crowd-pleasing phenomenon. The film features an aging Dustin Hoffman, alongside Josh Lucas and Kathy Bates. Boychoir follows the classic storyline of a father-like figure helping an pre-adolescent discover himself, and helping him to realize his talents. But, what makes Boychoir stand out, and especially magnificent are the performances in the film. It's rare, especially nowadays, to see a riveting child performance, but that's what you get watching this film. The child actors in this film are a pleasure to watch as they frolic the beautiful hallways of the historic American Boychoir School.
And although the acting is definitely noteworthy, what adds onto the quality of the film even more are the sets. Yes, in fact most of this film is shot inside the actual school. And this being true, it's truly an out-of-body experience watching this film because it feels like you're truly in the atmosphere with these kids. But adding all this up, what would a boy choir film be without the actual singing? These kids are truly gifted at singing. For boys ranging from 7-14, it's mind blowing to hear the pitch perfect performances of these boys, which adds even more to this film. It's evident that Boychoir wasn't a film slapped together sloppily by Francois Girard. It's evident that every detail has been carefully considered, and this was a film he truly wanted to make. It's evident that a lot of hard work, and energy went into creating this film.
But sets and music aside, the real star of the show is Dustin Hoffman. Is it a career defining performance? At the age of 77, Hoffman has definitely hit his prime already. But what Boychoir shows is a much more melancholic performance for Hoffman, who's already claimed his spot as one of the legends in film. When watching him in this film, you can see that there's a part of Hoffman's soul invested in this film. I was reading a review for this prior to seeing it, and a critic commented "there's a certain sadness to Hoffman's performance," and that definitely holds true. Though we never get to see the development of his character (which is one thing I was disappointed by in this film), throughout the entire film, Hoffman plays his character in a way which evokes and radiates regret and sadness. And for this reason alone, I think Boychoir should be watched a commended.
Though Boychoir isn't a perfect film, it's one of the best headliners shown at CIFF this year. It's heartwarming, inspirational and honestly just a very happy film. The performances ranging from Josh Lucas to Dustin Hoffman were magnificent, and the story, though generic, never becomes boring to watch. The sets in the film are amazing, as the film is predominantly shot in the real American Boychoir School. And so, though I could understand why people wouldn't enjoy this film (on a technical level), I loved it. I thought it was one of the better films of the festival, and it exceeded my expectations by a landslide.Though the reviews for this film are scarce so far, I can say with absolute certainty that people at the festival enjoyed this film, especially my lovely girlfriend who loved this film too, as it was one of her favourites (if not her favourite) of CIFF.
★★★½ review by Panta Oz on Letterboxd
Very sweet but predictable drama directed by François Girard and written by Ben Ripley, starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Debra Winger, Josh Lucas, and the American Boychoir School.
The story of Stet, a troubled and angry 12-year-old who loses his mother in a tragic accident, was a story of youth, a story of growing up, a story of achievement and disappointment in life. Stet's father brings him to an elite music academy, because Stet can sing well... but he has no contact with the boy because the father has a new wife and two daughters, and Stet is a secret...
Excellent performance from Dustin Hoffman... and the boys!
★★★½ review by Matt Thomas on Letterboxd
Rather classical, restrained performances help to lift this fairly sleight drama to above the average. In particular Izzard, Hoffman and young Garrett Wareing.
★★★★ review by Branovsky. on Letterboxd
فيلم فرنسي يتحدّث عن فتى لديه موهبة مدفونة يتحدّى الصّعاب من أجل تحقيق هدف لم يكُن في الحُسبان.
مشوار الألف ميل يبدأ بخطوة هذا هو عنوان فيلم إبن الكورال.
صبيّ يمشي على خُطى تُعانق روحٌ هَيمَنت وتعلّقت بأنغام المُوسيقى.
صوتٌ ساحر يُرفرف في هواء الرّوعة والجمال.
مكانٌ هادئ ثمّ صوتٌ ساكن ثمّ أنينٌ مُنخفض ثمّ صُراخٌ يعلُو بشغف.
وترٌ يتوزّع و صوتٌ يُسمع بين طبقات مُوسيقى كلاسيكيّة جميلة.
أداء باهر من الفتى و إخراج بسيط لكن رائع.
يستحقّ المُتابعة. 8.5/10
★★★★★ review by Vanja on Letterboxd
"You all are gonna take that sacred divine music of Handel's and knock it out of the ballpark. I wanna see angels descending from heaven right there in that cathedral. I want people to weep. I want you and your boys to shatter the stained glass windows!"
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